West Virginia Transplants Work to Change Stereotypes and Build WV Business

Jan 7, 2021 | Education, Entrepreneurs, Positively West Virginia, Retail

Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock, owners of The Lost River Trading Post, in Wardensville, love West Virginia and believe they can help change the perceptions and stereotypes about the state through their business – one customer at a time. 

In 2008, while living in Washington D.C., Paul and Donald began their love affair with West Virginia through visiting their mountain home in Lost River. Over time, two-day weekends turned into three days, four days and so on. Eventually, they noticed that they were spending more time in their vacation cabin than in their legitimate home. In 2013, they finally decided it was time to make a change. 

Paul and Donald acquired their real estate licenses in 2013 and decided to move to Wardensville, WV, permanently. When they began looking for properties to put on the market, they chose an old antique store. The two went back and forth about how to tackle selling this property for hours before the owner suggested that they buy it. Something which sounded so crazy at the time has now grown into a community hub and a facet of the town of Wardensville.

This week on Positively West Virginia, guests Donald and Paul talked about their dedication to bringing success and diversity to the mountain state. 

The Lost River Trading Post has reinvented the antique store. This establishment features solely locally curated and American-made products. You can peruse the gallery, find one-of-a-kind quality gifts, treat yourself to artisanal West Virginia products or pick up world-class craft beer and wine selections. The Lost River Trading Post boasts an onsite bakery and espresso bar so you can start your day with the highest quality local eats. 

Paul and Donald created this modern mountain general store with West Virginia’s growth and success in mind. 

“Anyone that wants to start a business wants to see positive growth and success. We’ve been able to show that to people.”

The two purposely only stock products they would use or enjoy because they aren’t solely focused on an item’s profit. They focus on the quality of their items and the atmosphere of their space. 

“Always making sure the spaces are welcoming, inclusive and diverse. That’s what attracts people and makes them feel welcome.”

Along with the growing Lost River Trading Post, the pair have created a non-profit and main street initiative to help the town grow, and local youth gain professional skills. Since opening, their business has also become a sort of “incubator” where community members can come to seek advice and talk through ideas with people who have already gone through that dreaded start-up phase. Paul and Donald want to see Wardensville thrive and they’re doing everything they can to make that happen. 

The two say that their success simply comes from conscious organization and reflection. Donald and Paul act as sort of a yin and yang to keep The Lost River Trading Post running smoothly and moving forward. Making lists and accepting they’ll never be done keeps the shop going, and daily reflections keep the vision moving forward. They say their biggest challenge is keeping employees from leaving West Virginia, but they hope that their nonprofit will help change that.

“For us, it’s always been about changing perception and creating opportunities.”

Paul and Donald may not be from West Virginia, but they got here as fast as they could and have been making a big splash ever since. Wardensville is happy to have them, and they can’t wait to watch it grow even more. 

Listen to the full podcast here: https://positivelywv.com/podcast/episode-149-donald-hitchcock-and-paul-yandura-lost-river-trading-post/


  • RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Be Our Guest by Theodore Kinni
  • PIECE OF ADVICE: When you’re not making money, you should be sitting down and figuring out how to make money,” said Donald. “Don’t take advice from people who haven’t done what you want to do,” said Paul.

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