By Ryan Cornell
For decades it was where the residents of Fort Valley purchased their groceries, their gasoline, their cigarettes and beer.
But when the Fort Valley Country Store closed due to financial reasons at the end of January, the community was left without a place to buy any of those things.
Six months have passed since the outpost issued its swan song, but the store could reopen by this fall.
Consisting of residents who act as shareholders, a real estate investment group called Fort Valley Properties LLC has contracted to purchase the store building at 7091 Fort Valley Road and its adjacent land earlier this month.
Stephen Hunter, president of the investment group, declined to share the purchase price of the property. He said the plan is to reopen the store in September or October.
Earlier this spring, another group of residents called Re-Store Fort Valley formed a steering committee to analyze the condition of the building and develop a business plan. The committee also prepared and mailed a survey about the store to Fort Valley residents and received responses from more than 20 percent of the mailings, Hunter said.
"I've worked peripherally in the direct mail business and if I ever got a 20 percent response on anything, I'd be bowled over," he said. "It's flabbergasting...it shows there's significant interest to the community, who jumped on it and filled it out."
From those survey responses, the committee learned that the most desired items for the store were gasoline, groceries, made-to-order foods and an ATM machine. The committee also learned that many respondents were interested in investing their own money in reopening the store, which helped create Fort Valley Properties LLC
Hunter said an inspector has recently given them a "thorough report" on the building.
"Everybody we've talked to asks when the store's opening," he said. "And we say, 'We're working on it, we're working on it,' and they say, 'Hurry, hurry.'"
For more information about Fort Valley Properties LLC, visit its website at fortvalleycountrystore.com.
Those interested in becoming investors can contact Hunter at 540-933-6210.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org