It's been one hundred years since the first Dawahare's store opened in Letcher County.
Many more stores and generations later, one employee at the Hazard location can say she's been through nearly half of that first century in business.
Greeting customers is nothing new for 86 year old Lou Lykins.
In 1957, Lou was working for her father in one of his grocery stores when the worst flood in Hazard's history wiped out nearly everything they had.
The next year, at age 37, former Hazard Mayor Willie Dawahare asked her to come work for him at his store on main street.
“I worked two days a week about two or three weeks and then he wanted me to work full time and I've been there ever since,” Lykins said.
Nearly 50 years later, Lou is believed to be the oldest and longest serving Dawahare's employee.
“They've been real good to me, the Dawahare's have, and I just want to work in public because I don't like staying home,” Lykins said.
Other employees drive Lou to work and she only goes in three days a week...
“She sells more in those three days than the five or six days I work,” Kim Boggs, store manager, said.
Lou says she might retire soon, but manager Kim Boggs and many others just don't want to think about that.
“It would be different without Lou and people come in and want to know where's Lou, I don't hear Lou, where's she at? They don't hear her, they don't see her, then they're like I'll just come back, what days does she work,” Boggs said.
So what's Lou's secret to success? She says she simply loves to sell and loves the customers.
“I just want to thank the Lord for him helping me all these years and letting me work the 49 years,” Lykins said
If she doesn't decide to retire, Lou will be 87 when she celebrates 50 years with Dawahare's on June 23rd, 2008.