NGU Returns Wood Name to Historic Tigerville Store
Tigerville, SC (August 23, 2022) A 168-year-old part of the Tigerville community was renamed earlier this month, honoring its historic role in the Greenville County community which is home to North Greenville University’s main campus.
NGU’s remodeled campus store on the north edge of the campus is now Wood’s General Store, celebrating the Wood family’s ties to the building which became a community hub when it was built by Tigerville pioneer B.F. Neves in 1864.
The building at 7850 North Tigerville Road, which NGU purchased from Willie Wood in 2007, was restored and reopened in 2012 as Tigerville General Store. This summer, the building was remodeled to accommodate the new campus store and serve as the NGU post office facility. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, the store carries a variety of NGU-branded items, as well as school supplies and snack items. University officials saw the opportunity to restore the Wood name as part of the repurposing.
“If you forget your history, you are giving up precious jewels,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., at an August 11 ceremony to celebrate the new name. “For over 150 years … this is the place where people would come, would intersect, and would have conversations. It’s really community.”
“That’s one of the things we learned in the pandemic. We need community and we need connections with other people,” said President Fant. “Places like this really are integral to the community. That’s been the value of stores like this in American life.”
The store was originally called Ben Neves General Store. The Wood family connection began in 1914 as John T. Wood became Tigerville’s postmaster, and also operated the store for Mr. Neves. Wood’s son, T. Pralo Wood, purchased the store in the 1940s, following Neves’ death. Wood’s son, Willie, bought the store from his father in 1988 and continued operating it until the mid-1990s. He sold it to North Greenville in 2007.
Willie Wood and his three siblings, Bobby Wood, Helen Wood, and Laura Wood Messer attended the August 11 event. Laura Wood Messer, a 1967 North Greenville graduate, shared remarks on behalf of the family. She noted that their mother, Helen R. Wood, followed John T. Wood as postmaster, serving in that role for nearly 47 years.
“We would like to thank North Greenville University for reconnecting the Wood name to this store,” Messer said. “You have refurbished and strengthened its 168-year-old walls and prepared it for another century of historical significance to the Tigerville community. And for that we are very grateful.”
Noting the university’s need to address shifting needs of students related to textbook purchases and mail services, Dr. Fant said NGU “realized we had the opportunity to consolidate that here and make this once again a consolidated crossroads.”
Slingshot, an educational technology company based in Marion, IN, manages Wood’s General Store. The company coordinates textbook services for students at Christian universities across the country and provides campus store management. Slingshot began working with NGU textbook services in the 2020-21 academic year and began managing the campus store this summer.
Sheri McCoin, Slingshot’s director of account and retail operations, said the firm is “excited for the continued partnership with NGU and the new opportunity to run the campus store. It is exciting to become a part of this community.”
NGU personnel involved in the renovation project were recognized during the ceremony. The team included members of the Tigerville Operations, Information Technology Services, Campus Enhancement Services, and University Marketing offices.
In describing the structure’s history and how its ownership would forge a long relationship with the university, Messer said Neves constructed the building “with wooden pegs holding most of the timbers together. That was 29 years before North Greenville high school/junior college/university even came into existence.
“Mr. Neves was a great friend and supporter of education. He helped North Greenville survive in the early years after its founding in 1892,” she said. “Mr. Neves donated the original 10 acres of land for the school and $500 to help in its establishment. For many years he somehow always found the cash to help keep the school’s doors open.”
Memories of the store ownership extended beyond the lasting community influence and impact of Mr. Neves.
Billy Watson, NGU’s senior associate vice president for Tigerville operations, who delivered the invocation at the ceremony, recalled being at the store while a North Greenville student in the early 1980s.
“This is a special place. I remember we’d come down and play checkers with Mr. Pralo, and we never could beat him. This is a personal place for me and the Wood family, and I’m so happy that the Wood name is back on this store.”