Editor’s Note: This is the 307th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — Born and raised in Beckley, Ed Rahal learned about retailing at an early age, working after school and on weekends at his father’s store, Dave’s Nut Shop.
“We were located next to the old Lyric Theater, and moviegoers were a big part of our business,” Rahal says. “We sold all kinds of snacks and, of course, tons and tons of popcorn. We did well until TV started luring away many of the Lyric’s customers.”
Graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, he attended West Virginia University for two years.
In 1957 Rahal moved to Huntington and in 1959 opened The Card Shop at 905 4th Ave. The store retailed Hallmark greeting cards, along with glassware, china and other gift items.
“Business was great,” he says. “I started doing wedding invitations, and that kept me busy. At Christmastime, doctors, lawyers and many local businesses would buy hundreds of cards from us. They don’t do that these days. In 1975, we opened a second store at the East Hills Mall on U.S. 60, and business was great there too, even better than the 4th Avenue store.”
Then, in 1980, the Huntington Mall opened, and that changed everything.
When the East Hills store was unable to compete with the nearby Huntington Mall, Rahal closed it. Many other downtown Huntington stores also struggled to compete with the new mall, and some closed their doors. In 1989, a discouraged Rahal sold his 4th Avenue store to an Ashland, Kentucky, businessman, Bill Whitman, who already had a card store in Ashland. The store remained open until 2017 when it closed.
After selling his store, Rahal went into the real estate business where he has worked for the past 30 years. He and his wife, Caroleee — whom he met one day as she shopped at his store — married in 1962. Today, they live at the Woodlands retirement community.