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The Gracie & Tate Merchandise ownership staff, from right, are Seth and Amanda Cox and Jim and Lisa Lackey. Tate Cox stands in front.

DANVILLE — Expansion and growth have made Gracie & Tate Merchandise a success story in Danville thanks to careful planning, dedication and an ever-growing roster of products.

Owners Seth and Amanda Cox, along with Amanda’s mother and step-father Jim and Lisa Lackey, serve as business partners in the venture that sees a sprawling retail store stocking up for the Christmas season.

The path to business ownership was a long road and wasn’t easy for the family.

The business name celebrates Seth and Amanda’s children, Gracie and Tate.

“I was pregnant with my son Tate and at 20 weeks, he had a heart defect,” said Amanda. “We were in Cincinnati a lot for a lot of testing and moved there at 30 weeks to deliver there. My mom wanted to come up with a way to help us pay our bills while we were going through all of this.”

Initially, the idea came to sell products online, and when that was successful, the talk of a retail store arose.

“I had to leave my job and I was home with him on a feeding tube and oxygen,” Amanda added. “His first full year of life was in Cincinnati (Children’s Hospital). Two years ago, he had his last open heart surgery and he was on a ventilator for eight weeks and we were told he wouldn’t make it. God proved everyone wrong.”

Seth Cox added, “So many people that we didn’t know reached out to help us. It was pretty overwhelming and we are so thankful.”

Tate, 4, can be seen playing behind the counter of the shop and following his father as he completes daily tasks for the business. Tate is energetic and wears a constant smile and possesses an infectious laugh that customers immediately respond to.

With the loss of Magic Mart to the area, the family saw an opening for a retail shop that carried a variety of goods from clothing, toys, housewares, gifts, cleaning supplies, phone accessories and more — all at discount prices. On this day, the business was preparing to expand its product placement further in the facility in time for Black Friday.

“We started looking at buildings and at first they wanted to sell it, but they rented it to us and eventually, we were able to buy it last December,” Amanda said. “Boone County has been good to us and if it wasn’t for God, prayers and the support of this community, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Overall, the business has been up and running for four years and in their current location for a year-and-a-half.

Seth and Amanda, who make their home at Lick Creek with their children, rely on the Lackeys for scouting out new products for the store.

“We travel a lot and we go and find product,” Lisa Lackey said. “We have wholesalers that we purchase from and we look to do less traveling and have all of the product delivered soon. It is a lot of work for the four of us. We carry a large variety of products.”

Jim Lackey added, “If it is something that we think we can sell and we can get a good deal on it, we’ll try it.”

Ultimately, the goal is to expand into other counties and perhaps franchise the business into other states.

“We’d love to continue to grow and expand in that way,” Amanda Cox said. “Right now we are blessed to be here and we want to thank the community for supporting us.”

The family are strict mask-wearers because of COVID-19 and they cite their son’s health issues as the reason for their dedication to wearing them and asking their customers to wear them, which was mandated by Gov. Jim Justice in early November.

“We’ve had a few people not want to wear them and when we tell them about Tate, they’ve understood and respected how we feel about it,” said Amanda Cox.

Gracie & Tate Merchandise is located at 2508 Smoot Ave., Suite C, in Danville and is open from from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.