Rick Vines at the Kindall Store. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

OLGA – Not much is left of Olga nowadays, but as one rolls past the roadsigns that remind of its existence, there’s still cause for pause — and for more than the elbow-deep curve in the road. There, the remains of the small, white, shuttered old-time Kindall Store still stands like a scene from another time.

The shop sits at the intersection of Highway Z and Olga Road, southeast of Fordland towards Ava.

In the coming months, that general store will once again draw visitors, customers and friends with more than just memories as it reopens for business.

“What we want to do is keep it really authentic,” says Rick Vines, who is leading the store’s revitalization effort. “When you walk in, we want it to seem like an old general store.”

Like the vintage gas pumps that left long ago, some things will be different at the Webster County spot. It won’t be a general store with traditional foodstuffs when it reopens in late spring or early summer. Instead, the business will offer things like soda, candy and nostalgia in a way that Vines hopes will prove to be a sustainable business model. It’s something that the Springfield businessman, who is primarily employed with a financial equipment company, hopes may be a long-term project for his eventual retirement.

“You can’t run on memories,” he says. “You have to make money.”

The store: empty but full of promise. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

Vines has more than a vision: He has hindsight, having grown up right down the road and “just across the slab,” a long piece of concrete across the river that puts most low-water bridges to shame. That experience gives him a personal connection, including memories of Sunday drives with his parents to the store, where treats would await — as would Corda Kindall, the elderly proprietor who operated the store for decades, whose name was pronounced Cordie.

“She knew your name,” says Vines.

Most of the time, he says, Corda and her store were together, save Sunday morning when she was at church.

“She was always here,” says Vines. “As a kid, I loved her because she was so nice.

“She always wore cotton dresses like old ladies did back then.

“I wish I’d asked more questions when I was young, but I didn’t.”

Corda was born before the turn of the 20th century, and she had seen much change with both the store and with life.

Newspapers articles tell of the store’s role in the community through the years. It’s a story that began in 1914, an Ozarks Mountaineer article notes, and the current building replaced the original in the 1920s.

It was a busy time, given the place. There were social events such as “the ice cream supper at Kindall’s store Saturday night (that) was well attended,” in 1935, and was recorded for posterity in the Marshfield paper.

“The store was a community meeting place,” said Charlie Kindall, one of the store owners’ sons, in a Webster County Citizen news article from 1997. “We had a hitch rack in the front of the store, and on Saturdays, that rack would be thick with wagons, side-by-side about 250 to 300 feet long. People do their shopping and before long a horseshoe game would start, then croquet, and by the early afternoon there were all kinds of things going on … right in front or around the store.”

The Kindall Store, located in the small Webster County community of Olga, will reopen in the coming months. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

There were times it was used as a point of directional reference, like when the paper printed a notice from a local man in 1935 inviting locals to come see a banana tree in bloom (surely more to this story, but let’s just go with it). And in other moments, it represented a community that today has all but disappeared. An example of the latter was in 1939, when the Seymour Citizen told of Olga’s blacksmith shop that still drew customers like C.F. Weir and John Philpott, who went there to have their horses shod. “Looks like they are ready to commence farming,” the paper printed.

The family also owned a second store not too far away in the community of Zenar, which was known as the Tella Store — and, in a twist of coincidence, a building that is owned today by Vines.

Corda would have seen all of those things. Her father owned the Kindall Store — also formerly known as the Tella Store — before she and her husband bought it in 1944. A note of the change was included in the “Local Happenings” section of the Seymour Citizen newspaper:

“Alvis Kendall has purchased the store known as Tella’s Store, and has taken the charge.”

After Alvis died in 1965, Corda continued operating the store in Olga.

“If I don’t have it, I try to get it,” she told KY3 journalist Ed Fillmer in the 1980s in a story that is available here. “I just love to meet the people and I have a good business here.

“I’ll sell someday because I’m 88 years old, but I’m not going to close the store.”

Corda died in 1995 at 96. Despite her plan to never close the store, factors forced that decision two years before her death.

After her death, the store remained closed for more than 15 years.

Then, in 2009, it reopened at the hands of Nicholas and Sarah Inman, before eventually transferring to different ownership. In addition to selling goods one might expect at such a stop, it became a community hub with food trucks, volleyball and other gatherings. During that window, Vines took his own daughter, now 19, to the store for her to create similar memories that he collected as a child.

“I saw the same look in her eye as I had,” he says.

Arriving at Olga, a small stop around seven miles south of Fordland. (Photo by Kaitlyn McConnell)

The store ultimately closed again a couple of years ago — giving Vines the opportunity for which he had waited. And, after renting the building for months, its opening sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time.

“I always wanted to open the store, but it seemed like someone got ahead of me,” he says. “This is my chance.”

Inside the empty — yet full of promise — store, Vines shares plans he and his wife, Renee, have to create more of a nostalgic experience that helps bring the past alive.

He speaks of soda pop and candy and baked goods, the latter of which his wife plans to make, and barrels filled with things as one pictures in stores of the past.

In addition to goods for sale, Vines also hopes to eventually have other events and draws at the store, such as a farmer’s market. He plans to have a small stage in the back of the store with musical instruments at hand.

“So when people swing by, if you sing or play, just take the stage,” he says.

In a world with Amazon and Dollar General, it comes down to reinventing the store in a way that is sustainable, he says.

“We’re going to try and make people proud,” he says. “That it’s authentic and like it used to be, but also make money.”

Kaitlyn McConnell

Kaitlyn McConnell is the founder of Ozarks Alive, a cultural preservation project through which she has documented the region’s people, places and defining features since 2015. McConnell regularly shares her stories with readers of the Springfield Daily Citizen. Contact her at: kaitlyn@ozarksalive.com More by Kaitlyn McConnell