Ann Heap, proprietor of the store for the past three years, is also one of our artisans. She came to Fort Valley in 1986 when her family bought what was then Twin Lakes Campground. She now lives with her dog Buddy on Mine Mountain. Ann loves the beauty of this valley as well as the culture of caring that is so much a part of the Fort. Active in the community, Ann attends Faith Lutheran Church, performs with local theatre, and devoted many hours to the local Rescue Squad.
Claire has lived in Fort Valley on and off for nearly 20 years. She raised three children - Nicole, Michael and Christopher - in Vienna, Virginia. Her sons are now 34 years old and 30 years old, respectively. She lost her 28-year-old daughter to cancer in December 2011, which brought Claire back to The Fort for what she thought would be a few months of spiritual recovery. She is now approaching her seventh consecutive year back here in The Fort, began working at the store in November 2017, and took on her management role in November 2018. Claire is also our Notary Public (registration #7806536) commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Nova has worked for the Fort Valley Country Store through its many iterations over the years, in addition to working at other (now closed) stores in the fort. Nova is our go-to person for anything or anyone Fort Valley. She was born and raised here, married her husband Ricky here, raised her two daughters here, and is now the proud grandmother of a grandson and two granddaughters. We are grateful to have Nova at the store when she isn't spending time with her family.
Rachel has worked at the store for a couple of years. She and her siblings were raised and homeschooled here in The Fort. She graduated from high school in the spring of 2018 and continues to live with her family just a hop skip and a jump from the store.
Ireland has lived with her family, including three girls - ranging from three years to 18 years old - in Fort Valley for a couple of years. She works as an overnight caregiver several nights a week and part-time at the store. A creative spirit through and through, Ireland subs in as our photographer and Santa's Helper, as needed. It may surprise you to know that pink is Ireland's favorite color!
If the name is familiar, Angel is, indeed, former employee Shanda Hernandez's son. Angel works part-time at the store, volunteers for the Fort Valley Volunteer Fire Department, and is currently in school to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
Athea, also known as Thea . . . also known as Princess Athea, has been with us for a few months. She can be a bit feisty, but that sure does come in handy on busy days. Thea lives with her mom and dad and one of her three siblings on a small farm here in The Fort, and she attends both Strasburg and Central high schools.
Gage is our newest employee and contributes a "chill" attitude here at the store, especially welcomed when the kitchen gets busy. He graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School and now lives with family in Fort Valley. When you stop by the store, chances are you'll find Gage in the kitchen listening to music from the 1960s and 1970s. Despite his young chronological age, we're pretty sure he's an old soul through and through.