Charles and Joyce Pelot are as Georgian as red clay. He was born and raised in Atlanta, she in Lithonia. Charles was just a teenager when he began working in the produce department for Kroger. A few years later he jumped ship and went to work for A&P Food Stores (remember them?). Charles stayed with A&P until 1982. That's when he and Boyce Waldroup went into business together and opened P&W Produce at the corner of Shannon Way and Hwy 29 in Lilburn. Waldroup later got out of the business but the name didn't change.
The original P&W Produce stand sat next to Kenerly's Hardware. Tom Kenerly owned 60 acres of land in that area including the land that P&W sat on. The produce stand was also a country store, so the Pelots sold a little bit of everything. Fruits and vegetables, fishing equipment, live bait, and firewood were staples. With the produce and hardware stores side by side, customers had one stop shopping for most of their needs.
In 2003, Kenerly sold his land to developers, and a Wal-Mart and Home Depot now anchor a development on the corner of Lester Road and Hwy 29. The sale of the land meant P&W Produce had to find a new home, so Charles and Joyce moved it to a location on Beaver Ruin Road just west of Hwy 29. The plan was to keep it going for five more years until Charles' retirement benefits kicked in. But business was so good the couple decided to keep it going - until now. P&W Produce closed its doors for good on August 31, 2013.
"It's emotional," Charles said. "We've been doing this for 30 years so it's sad and happy at the same time. We're looking forward to better things."
Those better things include spending a lot more time with their six grand children. P&W was open seven days a week from 10 to 5. Charles and Joyce never took extended time off. They would take a Memorial Day off here, a 4th of July there, and at Christmas they would close for three days. There was never a long vacation with a "back in two weeks" sign on the door.
Customers appreciated that kind of loyalty, and when word got around that P&W would be closing, the customers came out of the wood work.
"The last few weeks there have been lots of people coming back," Charles said. "There have been a lot of hugs and kisses, and a few tears. It's been joyous to see old friends and customers."
There was something comforting about driving up Beaver Ruin and seeing P&W Produce. And now it's gone the way of the 8-Track, which creates a dilemma for me - where am I going to get my boiled peanuts now?!
A Gwinnett original - P & W Produce and Country Store . Charles and Joyce Pelot will now enjoy retirement after 30 years of business