Head to Wyoming County and check out this surprising hidden gem in Pineville.
WYOMING COUNTY MAY NOT BE ONE OF THOSE COUNTIES you hear a lot about, but honestly, that’s part of its charm. The Coal Heritage National Scenic Byway runs through it and gives you an appreciation for the dichotomy of the terrain. One minute you are hugging rugged mountains cloaked in a dense canopy of trees, and then it opens up to an amazing vista, like the R.D. Bailey Lake or Twin Falls Resort State Park. Driving through this county is almost like going on a treasure hunt—you never know what hidden gems you’ll find.
One of those gems is Pat’s Fashions and Tax Service on Main Avenue in the town of Pineville. Don’t let the “tax” part of Pat’s Fashions and Tax Service trip you up. The first time I drove through Pineville, I saw the sign, scratched my head, chuckled, and kept going. The second time I went to Pineville, my curiosity got the better of me, so I checked it out. I’m so glad I did, even if just for the reason of getting to meet the owner, Pat Armstrong.
Every time I visit a town, I’m reminded how important it is to support brick-and-mortar shops. Retail is challenging even in the best of times, but businesses like Pat’s are the lifeblood of communities. They support the little leagues and community fundraisers and Easter egg hunts. They make downtown a destination and are an important cog in the wheel of tourism. When visitors go to towns like Pineville, they are looking for more than ATV trails—they also want a selection of restaurants and places to shop. These are communities’ souls.
Armstrong is an entrepreneur extraordinaire. She’s an accountant who got her start in the 1970s doing $5 tax returns and now does 2,000 tax returns a year. In 1972, she opened a women’s clothing boutique and called it Pat’s Fashions. When she added her accounting and tax preparation business, the IRS told her that she needed to add Tax Services to Pat’s Fashions, since they were operating out of the same building. So she did, and never thought twice about it.
You’ll find the shop overflowing with a large Simply Southern collection; aisles and aisles of ready-to-wear clothing; a wide range of formalwear and prom dresses from brands like Johnathan Kane, Stella Couture, Ellie Wilde by Mon Cherie, and Aleta Couture; Judy Blue and Kancan jeans; and accessories galore. I walked out with a new pair of tennis shoes, an evening gown, a dress, a sweater for my daughter, and a smile on my face.
In 2021, Armstrong opened another business: The Gamers Arcade and Game Room, an arcade filled with vintage and modern arcade games, pinball machines, and a pool table. “I didn’t care if I made a cent,” Armstrong says. “I just wanted to create something safe and fun for the kids to do—a place where families could make memories together.”
She also recently renovated the space above Pat’s Fashions into The Armstrong, an elegantly outfitted Airbnb hotel in downtown Pineville. “When I first bought this building, the upstairs was awful. There were bats everywhere, and I just used it for storage. It was plumb full of junk. My junk. Other people’s junk. It was like a dungeon. It took three carpenters and 18 months, but we turned it into something special. It’s very peaceful and quiet—with the best mattresses you’ve ever slept on. It feels like home.”
At 72 years old, Armstrong, who was given the West Virginia Public Accountant Association Distinguished Service Award in 2012, is like Pineville’s fairy godmother, and she’s not slowing down. “The good Lord has blessed me,” she says. “I see things that need to be done, so I do it. But I can’t do it all.” Although to outsiders, it appears that she can. She’s in the process of renovating the large space above the arcade, transforming it into a 14-bedroom hotel, and adding a long deck to the outside of the building with seating and fire pits so that guests can enjoy looking out at Castle Rock, the unique natural rock formation that overlooks town.
She says, “We get a lot of tourists, but there’s just not enough for them to do. Not everyone likes to ride a four-wheeler and, after dark, those who are riding the trails want more things to do. I’m just doing my part and trying to fill those voids.”
59 Main Avenue, 304.732.6700, “Pat’s Fashions Pineville” on FB