2019 valley favorites




At first glance, a cheese shop, tire service centers and a convenience store wouldn’t seem to have all that much in common. But on closer look, the family-owned Stuarts Draft businesses share a commitment to their customers and the community that has led to their success stretching back 70 years. Eavers Tire Pros, 2369 Stuarts Draft Highway, is owned by Petie and Gary Eavers, who first opened in Stuarts Draft in 1949. In 2006, they opened a second Fishersville location at 27 Wilson Blvd. The family, who now operate a BP station and convenience store, also operated a full-service station at the original spot from 1949 to 1990 before building a bigger station next door and eventually moving to the current location at 2387 Stuarts Draft Highway. The family’s most recent addition is The Cheese Shop at 2366 Tinkling Spring Road. The Eavers bought the already well-known shop in 2006 and completed an expansion last fall, greatly increasing floor space and adding a deli sandwich shop. The Eavers family’s reputation with the community is tangible, not only in the decades of customer support of the homegrown businesses, but also in The News Virginian’s annual Valley Favorites voting. In 2019, the Eavers earned top spots in auto repair, best place to get an oil change, convenience store and best place for local food and produce. Gary Eavers Jr., Gary Eavers’ son, manages The Cheese Shop. He said the store, popular with locals and tourists, dates to the 1960s when a Mennonite family who moved to the area from Ohio began selling cheese from the back porch. “It really was just a cheese shop to start,” Eavers said. While the shop has more than 60 varieties of cheese, some locally made, the expansion that wrapped up last October increased the floor space to 4,000 square feet. The previously cramped store now has space for customers to move around or sit and enjoy sandwiches from the deli, which opened in January. “We wanted to improve the customer experience,” Eavers said. The shop is stocked with more than 2,500 products, from candy and spices, nuts and dry fruit, jams and jellies to a selection of 30 deli meats. “The focus over the last several years has been as much as locally sourced [products] as possible,” Eavers said. That includes local honey and homemade breads. The shop also is interested in finding a consistent source to provide local wheels of cheese produce during the spring and summer, he added. Although the shop is on a busy road, it’s a bit off the Stuarts Draft’s main thoroughfare, U.S. 340. “Not many people just happen upon us,” Eavers said. Still, the shop’s reputation has made it a destination stop not just for locals, but for busloads of tourists, especially during the fall foliage season. The thread running through each of the family’s successful business is customer service. “With the tire shops, I’ve learned from my dad and grandfather, people just want to be treated fairly,” Eavers said. Whether its selling tires, changing oil or selling cheese, the principle is the same: “Offer [customers] quality service at reasonable prices and stand behind your work.” The 37-year-old also learned about working hard from his grandfather, Petie, who is now in his late 70s and still helps out at the tire service center. Eavers said the other important component to any successful small business is the staff. “The people we have working for us ... are people who care about the work that they do. Having employees who care about their customers is the only way that four or five members can run businesses like these,” he said. Knowing their customers voted the family businesses as their favorites also provides confirmation they must be doing something right. “It’s a good reminder that our friends and other people in the community recognize we work hard and take pride in what we do,” Eavers said.

Celebrating the Valley’s
Best of 2019

The News Virginian