County Sales hosts 50th Anniversary Open House 

The internationally recognized bluegrass and old-time retail music institution, County Sales, is celebrating 50 years at its base in Floyd, Virginia, and to mark the anniversary they will be hosting an Open House during the weekend of August 4-6, 2023.

Open house hours are Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. On offer are band performances by special guests such as Lonesome River Band, The Kody Norris Show, Allen Mills & Gene Parker, Jeremy Stephens & Corrina Rose Logston, Raistlin Brabson & Up Jumped Trouble, and Corbin Hayslett & Jesse Smathers. 

Also, to keep the party going all weekend long there will be meet and greets, workshops, and jam sessions in the store.  

As an added attraction, there will be what has been described as, “amazing deals on all of our inventory.”

Originally started in premises on East 37th Street, New York City, by country and blues music lover David Freeman, the mail-order business, an offshoot to his County Records, was moved in the fall of 1973 to the basement of the old Floyd Theatre, Talleys Alley in the hamlet of Floyd. 

County Sales began as full-time business due to an unexpected twist of fate, as Freeman related in 2008 …..

“….. by taking over supplying American country LPs to European customers for a British country music magazine (Country News & Views) that had such a service, but then lost its USA supplier in Nashville. So we took over, sending parcels to the British Isles and other European countries, while building up our own business in the USA (mostly from classified ads in the Nashville Music City News newspaper, at first). We also got a lot of customers by word of mouth, and we had a small but solid group of collectors who bid on my auction lists‚ many of them became customers of County Sales when they found they could get current LPs from us at discount prices.” 

After about three or four years it expanded to include domestic customers as well.  

Freeman’s first employee was Mary Harmon (now deceased), who was hired to do secretarial/ accounting work. Other early recruits were Chet Rhodes – a customer before he became an employee, who started working at County Sales in January 1977 (and in 1979 went on to manage Record Depot, Freeman’s Roanoke-based wholesale outlet), and Wanda Dalton, sister of noted bluegrass songwriter Randall Hylton, from March 1977 (’til she retired in 2005). Another long-term employee was Judy Weddle, who retired in 2019 after 27 years of service.

County Sales has been a magnet not only for collectors but for musicians also, as Dalton recalls … 

…. one Friday afternoon, the door opens and inside walks John Hartford.  He was on his way to Virginia Tech to do a show and came to visit County Sales. He was able to spend an hour before someone noticed the bus and came looking to meet him. He was just as nice as everyone said he was. A real gentleman!  

There were always musicians stopping in on their travels, and we had many who lived around the area who stopped in often. Allen Mills of the Lost and Found, Junior Sisk, Sammy Shelor and so many others.  

Floyd is a hotbed of young, and older musicians, and they all found their way to County for the music they loved.”

Over the years others have worked there. Gary Reid, who was production co-ordinator at Freeman’s newly- acquired Rebel Records from March 1983 until the end of 1996, would make occasional trips to the Floyd premises.

He remembers …  “There were about four people that worked there. Indicating a very tight and efficient operation, reflecting Freeman’s economical manner.”

Keeping up with technology, in 1983 Freeman bought his first computer, and from October 1996 work began on a website for County Sales that went live in March 1997.

Late in 2017 the then 78-year-old Freeman announced that County Sales would be ceasing operation on January 17, 2018.

In the following August Floyd business couple Dylan and Heather Locke, who had been in discussions about them purchasing the business before Freeman closed it, became the new owners, ensuring that the County Sales’ legacy continued.

In April 2019 the Lockes moved County Sales to 117 S Locust Street, just off W Main Street (and across the road from the legendary Floyd Country Store). It is only the second location in the 50 years of bricks and mortar history in Floyd.

One of the most outstanding features of the business is the County Sales Newsletter, the first edition of which was in August 1965. The newsletters were characterized by Freeman’s personalized, authoritative, and trustworthy reviews. 

In recent times reviews have been provided by Art Menius, primarily, and Gary Reid, with staff members, of whom there are four at the moment, listing their personal ‘picks’.  

This helped to establish County Sales’ unique identity in the world, and push his aims at creating the world’s largest catalog of bluegrass and old-time music recordings. 

County Sales was, and continues to be, noted for its speedy service, discount prices, knowledgeable advice, and a wide-ranging stock, that went on to include books and videos (later DVDs) as well as LPs and CDs. 

We hope that it’s a great weekend at County Sales, and long may they continue to thrive and serve the community so well. 


Currently the store is open from Wednesday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Arrangements can also be made for a visit outside of regular business hours.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.