FULKS RUN — Roughly 10 years ago, David Lawson purchased a cabin on Yankeetown Road in Fulks Run from Garnett Turner.
After the Fluvanna County resident cut the check, Garnett Turner handed over the home and one of his famous hams.
The 71-year-old has been addicted ever since. He frequently stops in at Fulks Run Grocery and Turner Hams to grab a sandwich.
“They’re good … they’re just good,” he said.
On Friday, Lawson was among dozens of residents to stop by the store to celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Garnett Turner, along with his wife, Lena, opened the country store on Brocks Gap Road in 1949.
About a decade later, several customers began asking Garnett Turner to stock hams in his store. Turner began looking for a source for the hams but came up empty-handed.
So, he began the five-month curing process on his own. In his first year, he made 25 hams.
“He sold them right away,” said Garnett’s Turner’s son, Ron Turner, who now owns the store with his wife, Peggie.
Garnett Turner made 75 the next year and the year after that.
In 1966, Garnett Turner built the Turner Ham House, which was expanded in 1969. His son added onto the ham house in 1998.
Production has increased to about 8,000 hams a year.
In 1969, Garnett Turner kept the ham house but sold the store to his brother, Miles Turner, who returned to the Shenandoah Valley after spending 13 years working for IBM in Washington, D.C.
For Miles Turner, it was a chance to reunite with friends.
“I saw all the people that I knew for years,” he said. “I enjoyed seeing the people.”
Ron Turner attended James Madison University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in fine arts with a concentration in photography in 1985. He met his future wife, Peggie, who also earned an undergraduate degree in fine arts in 1986.
The couple moved to Northern Virginia where he worked as a commercial photographer and she taught art in Fairfax County schools.
In 1992, they moved to northern Rockingham County and bought the ham house. Four years later, they purchased the store, making sure the business remained in the family.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Ron Turner said.
While customers can still snag a soda, chips or a candy bar, the store is much different from when it opened.
“It’s changed a lot through the years,” Peggie Turner said.
When the store first opened, it wasn’t self service. Customers would go to the counter, place their order and someone, usually Lena Turner, would grab the merchandise from the shelves.
A few years later, customers began searching the shelves for themselves.
As grocery chains and big box stores emerged over the years, Fulks Run Grocery adapted.
It dropped items such as canned goods and opted for locally-made products, including jams and jellies. It also added other items, including Polish pottery.
As the store sets its sights on the next decade, it will do so with a little extra help.
Three of Ron Turner’s four sisters recently retired and are helping out at the store.
Pat Turner Ritchie, 67, of Winchester, grew up in the store, literally.
The Turner family lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the basement.
“This was home … we’d play around in the shelves,” she said. “It’s exciting that it’s still a thriving business. We have a lot of pride in it.”