Longtime Albany businessman Hall McWhorter passes away at 80

Posted September 4, 2019 at 8:56 am

McWhorter Variety.psd

Hall McWhorter.psd

A long-time Albany business owner has passed away.

Hall McWhorter, 80, who for several decades owned and operated one of the best known businesses in Albany, McWhorter Variety Store, died last Monday, August 26, at Cumberland County Hospital.

McWhorter Variety Store, which was established in 1961, is now located on Cross Street two blocks north of the courthouse square, and is still in business, operated by his widow, Alice McWhorter, and his daughter, Debbie McWhorter Claywell.

In it’s heyday, the store was a bustling center of local shopping, featuring everything from sporting goods, guns, fishing gear, toys, school and office supplies and sewing and crafts needs, records and tapes and a vast magazine selection.

At one time, the business even featured a side restaurant and grill that was a busy gathering place, especially during the lunch time trade.

In the after school hours, the grill and snack bar became a hangout for youth and the famous “Sloppy Joe” sandwich was a crowd favorite.

The business was initially formed through a partnership between McWhorter and Maxey Avery and was known as the Albany Variety Store, located on Cross Street between adjacent to what was then Clinton Cleaners.

Due to space limitations in the store, the basement of Dyer Drug was rented and turned into “Toyland”.

According to information furnished to the Clinton County News by his daughter, Debbie McWhorter Claywell, Hall McWhorter and his brother, Carl McWhorter, bought out Avery when Carl returned from service in 1964.

Avery then opened up a variety store on the Albany Square known as Maxey’s Trading Post

The current location was established after land was purchased from local funeral director Leo Sewell and the present building was completed in 1966, the year that another brother, Keith, also returned home and joined in as a partner in the business.

The business name was at that time changed to McWhorter Variety Store and in 1968, the three brothers expanded to a store in Monticello. That venture closed in 1974 and the merchandise was moved to the Albany location.

In 1981, Carl and Keith left the business partnership to pursue other interests and the family continued to operate the business to the present time.

Hall’s son, Greg, opened and operated a video rental business and arcade in the basement of the building for several years during the 1980s. The video and arcade became a famous gathering location for teens and young adults on Friday and Saturday nights.

The arcade closed when Greg passed away but the video store remained in business until the early 2000s.

In 1963, Hall McWhorter received the Clinton County Young Businessman Award and he took pride in his business and wanted to help everyone he encountered whenever possible.

Many local students earned extra spending money working at McWhorter Variety after school and on weekends, especially during the busy holiday shopping season when the store would be packed with shoppers looking for Christmas gifts.

Debbie McWhorter Claywell told the Clinton County News that during her father’s 57 years of business, he also sold go-carts, memorial flowers, clothes, shoes and much more. She noted that he was also known to be the “best key maker in town” and the store was often referred to as “the place that has what you can’t find anywhere else.”

She noted that she and her mother hope to continue her father’s legacy by continuing to operate McWhorter Variety.

A complete death notice for Hall McWhorter appears this week on page X