WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, recognized Larry’s Mini Mart of Whitley City, Kentucky as the Senate Small Business of the Week.
Dr. Paul entered the following into the Congressional Record:
Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, each week I recognize an outstanding Kentucky small business that exemplifies the American entrepreneurial spirit. This week, it is my privilege to recognize Larry’s Mini Mart of Whitley City, Kentucky as the Senate Small Business of the Week.
When Larry Sumner founded Larry’s Somerset Oil in 1973, he had no idea it would grow into the family business that it is today. Larry got his start in business when he opened his service station in Somerset, KY. Three years later, he relocated to Whitley City. It was there in Whitley City that Larry’s children watched their father run a business that bolstered their home-town community. As the Sumner children grew older, they learned first-hand what it meant to devote one’s energy to their customers, so it was only natural that they inherited their father’s entrepreneurial nature. Thus, Larry Sumner’s business continues operating today in the exact location he moved to in 1976, with the Sumner children at the helm of operations.
Today Larry’s Mini Mart, as it is now called, is Whitley City’s one stop shop for full-service gas, kerosene, and diesel. Unlike the days of old, most people nowadays pump their own gas and rarely interact with the folks working at their local gas stations. That is not the case for Larry’s Mini Mart, as they carry on the tradition of pumping gas for their customers, always doing it with a smile. Larry’s is also the local stop where folks can drop in to pick up cold drinks, snacks, ice, and anything else they might need whether in a hurry or just for an afternoon excursion. Larry’s Mini Mart even goes beyond what a typical service station offers by renting out their extra storage space to their loyal customers.
When the late Larry Sumner first opened his business back in the 1970’s, he wanted to create a place that was more than the average filling station. He understood that offering quality service and a wide variety of conveniences would make his store a success, but his dream went beyond those of profits. Larry Sumner’s goal was to create a place that would foster community within the town of Whitley City. When Larry Sumner’s son Mark and daughter Marlo took over the business in 1998 following their father’s death, they stayed true to his mission. Today, as it has always been, Larry’s Mini Mart is a place where locals can come to catch up on the latest news in the county, whether that news travels through the local paper or word-of-mouth. As is often the case with small towns, sometimes it takes a trip down to Larry’s just to hear about the goings-on about town, and the late Larry Sumner would not have it any other way.
Larry’s has often been recognized for the quality service they provide to their community. Most recently in 2020, Larry’s Mini Mart received McCreary County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Month. They have also won McCreary County Business of the Year numerous times due to the charitable spirit of the owners and staff. Throughout their years of operation Larry’s Mini Mart has supported local school systems and all their various sporting activities. Larry’s has become a well-known for hosting car wash fundraisers for various causes within their community. Larry’s Mini Mart has also contributed to the Banquet of Blessings, a McCreary County tradition that provides a free Christmas meal to anyone in need. Larry’s has also contributed to the local chapter of Relay for Life, a cancer awareness nonprofit. Moreover, the public library, the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce, right down to the McCreary County Little League baseball team, have all seen support from the fine folks at Larry’s Mini Mart.
Larry’s Mini Mart is known not only for their quality service and charitable spirit, but they also maintain their reputation for being a fantastic place to work. Currently, Mark Sumner and his wife Stephanie operate Larry’s with the help of their daughter Taylor and their son Tyler. This family affair fosters a friendly environment, to which Charlie Strunk and Crawford Tucker can attest; the two have been a part of the Larry’s Mini Mart team for over forty years. That type of longevity clearly shows that Larry’s is not your average service station. Larry’s Mini Mart is a community institution that goes above and beyond to support their friends and neighbors, whether it be during or outside of their regular business hours. Congratulations to the Sumner family and entire team at Larry’s Mini Mart. I look forward to seeing your continued growth and success in Kentucky.
(As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Paul continues the tradition of honoring America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship oversees proposed legislation on matters relating to the Small Business Administration and investigates all problems relating to America’s small businesses.)
Photos by Eugenia Jones
On Friday, August 19, 2022, one of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators, Dr. Rand Paul, presented a Small Business of the Week Congressional Record to Mark Sumner, his family, and the staff at Larry’s Mini Mart where they have pumped gas for their customers for fifty years. As his vehicle’s windshield was cleaned and its tank filled with fuel, Senator Paul remarked that many years have passed since he last saw a gas station offer full service.
Photo by Eugenia Jones
The Sumner family are pictured above with KY Senator Rand Paul. Pictured (left to right): Stephanie and Mark Sumner, Senator Paul, Taylor and Tyler Sumner.