Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Owners Enjoying Old Country Store Feel Yulee: A Change of Pace for Proprietors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Owners Enjoying Old Country Store Feel Yulee: A Change of Pace for Proprietors

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan P. Respess, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

The old country store on U.S. 17 South in Yulee generates drive-up, walk-up and trot-up customers.

They come to Eileen's Country Store in cars and work trucks, arrive on foot, some of them pushing lawn mowers or driving riding mowers to replenish the tanks. Some even show up on horseback.

They're looking for a cold drink, snacks, groceries, hardware and friendly chatter -- the essentials for the rural life.

It's those essentials that appealed to the store's new proprietors, firefighter/paramedics Eileen Teston-Ivey and her husband, Chris Ivey, who both wanted a change of pace from their hectic emergency services work at a Jacksonville fire station.

The 75-year-old, wood-frame store beside the highway at Harts Road has had at least four owners, and until June was known as Martin's Country Store. The Yulee couple bought the store and also continue working as full-time firefighter-paramedics.

"It was my dream to own my own business," said Teston-Ivey, who has a nursing degree and had worked as a registered nurse in the emergency room of Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. She grew up in Yulee -- her folks live not far from the old store -- and she has memories of stopping by there and meeting her neighbors.

Now she's doing the greeting, tallying up the goods -- horse feed, a premium high-protein dog chow her customers requested, soft drinks, wine, milk, eggs, some fresh vegetables and fruit.

"I added the horse feed. One man requested fresh greens. A man wanted goat feed, a woman asked for chicken feed," she said. She's flexible on the inventory and vows to supply whatever item the customer needs.

"What's neat about this is the regulars come back. They socialize. It's down-home friendly," she said.

Although the couple cleaned and straightened the store, they also worked to keep it the same, to use the hand-made wooden shelving, the wooden counter, an enameled Toledo scale. …

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