CLOVER — Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of profiles about Clover-area residents and their connection to the community, to mark the 125th anniversary of the town of Clover.
Boyd Appliance & Tire has been in business for nearly 62 years — and those who visit the business quickly get the feeling it’s not your local big box store. And they are right.
Bill Boyd, a second-generation Clover businessman, remembers his customers’ names and what’s going on in their lives. He also remembers, quite clearly, growing up in Clover.
Boyd prefers to be on the floor of his business, walking between the aisles of refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers and dishwashers, or in the next room talking up the latest version of trimmers, tractors and flat-screen TVs.
But sitting comfortably in a little used office — where there’s a photograph of his parents on the wall behind him — Boyd said: “I can’t take responsibility for this business. My dad and my mother started the business. My mom died last year; my daddy died in ’04.”
They were country folk — that’s how Bill Boyd described them. His mother grew up in Bethel, and his father grew up on Boyd Road. “I am a sixth-generation Boyd attending Bethel Presbyterian,” he said.
“We will be having our 250th anniversary next year for our church.”
He said the two biggest activities when he was growing up were school and church.
Many of Boyd’s memories are of his school years, like when he was in grammar school. The August before school was to start one year, he said, a lightning bolt turned Bethel Grammar School into cinders.
“Now, they would wonder what to do with the kids, but then, we were in this two-story building, they just had all those kids come to Clover Grammar that year,” he remembered. “We just sort of tightened up; they put all of us downstairs and Bethel upstairs. I remember that real well.”
He played tackle on the football team for Clover High School, during a time when everyone knew everyone. When he wasn’t at school, he was working part time at the store.
Boyd said his father came home after the war and went to work for W. G. Reed, who had the Firestone store. He did that until 1951, when Boyd’s dad decided it was time for his own store.
“My Dad liked to tell this story,” “Boyd said, “He went to see a banker here in town about borrowing some money to open this business, and the banker asked him, ‘What do you need the money for?’
“My dad said, ‘I want to open a store.’ ‘What you gonna sell, the banker asked’. ‘Well, I’m going to sell tires, appliances, stoves, refrigerators and stuff like that.’ The banker said, ‘Well you might want to think about this. You know in a few years everyone will have one of those things and you won’t have any business.’”
“Daddy said he sat there and thought about that a little bit and said, ‘Well, if you let me have it, I’m gonna try it anyway.’”
Boyd still laughs at the memory. “Daddy said, now it was 10 to 15 years down the road,‘That banker knew a lot about the banking business, but he sure knew nothing about the retail business.’”
Boyd knew early on that he would be following his father into the family business, but then another fire happened. Except this one was a bit closer to his heart; Boyd Tire & Appliance burned to the ground.
“It was during the day; I was in school,” Boyd remembers. “[The store] was right beside the fire dept. But that didn’t help. When tires get to burning it’s hard to put that kind of fire out.”
“That was a sad day. I think that was the first time I saw my Daddy cry. He lost everything. Luckily, my dad took his ledger books when he left the building. But nobody missed a day’s work.”
“We moved across the street, there was a vacant lot, where the fire department is now,” Boyd said. “We got a temporary building for the office, and we stored stuff in an old shed.”
Just about a year later, around 1967, the Boyds built the building that now houses the tire, lawn and tractor side of the business.
While attending Spartanburg Junior College, Boyd said he witnessed yet another Clover fire, though this time on television. The Fall’s Lumber fire was so big it made television stations around the state.
After a stint with the National Guard, Bill Boyd came home to Clover and the family business. It was 1969.
“I pretty much knew I was going to do that,” Boyd said. “There’s lots of times I am glad I did, and there’s probably times I wish I hadn’t….I’ve been here 40-something years.”
Just as Clover itself has changed over the ensuring years, Boyd Tire & Appliance has also. In 1974, it expanded into lawn and garden and purchased the old grocery store next door.
After remodeling, the appliance side of the business moved to that space. Boyd Tire and Appliance was expanded with another location, this one in York, managed by his younger brother.
Boyd said he thinks Clover looks nice now. Sure, there are a few empty buildings, he said, but not many. And he said he still sees people he knew from his Clover High School days.
“I went to the 45th class reunion,” hes aid. We had a good time. When we were in school, we knew everyone then.”
Just like Bill Boyd knows all his customers now.