Bringing back the old country store 

By Ruthann Carr

It’s just a good, old-fashioned country store owned by someone who loves Fork Union: Archie Arnold. 

Arnold opened the VSI Hardware and Country Store at 4312 James Madison Highway in the middle of the pandemic.   

“Because we’re just crazy like that,” Arnold joked.  

The owner of VSI Supply, a plumbing supply company, said he kept driving past the empty grocery store and thought each time that someone needed to open up a store there.  

Soon he realized that someone was him. 

Arnold had a store in Charlottesville where he sold plumbing supplies, but there wasn’t enough parking and a few other issues kept it from thriving. Then the pandemic hit.  

Arnold decided to pull his inventory from the Charlottesville store and open his Hardware and Country Store.  

“I want to bring back hands-on service and create a unique destination that serves the public,” he said. 

Customer Harvey Storm said he thinks Arnold did just that.  

“I had a plumbing project but did not have the talent to complete it,” Storm wrote in an email. “When I visited VSI and asked them for advice, three employees (I think one was the owner) helped me.  They even gave me a PVC pipe sample to measure my existing PVC pipes with detailed instructions on how to make the installation.  To me, they went out of their way to help a customer.  Because first impressions are very meaningful, they really impressed me.” 

As Arnold takes you around his store, it’s obvious it’s a labor of love and he’s learning as he goes.  

“People kept asking me if I carried animal feed. I never thought about it before, but enough people asked that I decided to carry some,” he said.  

Now animal feed takes up a whole aisle.  

Arnold said people kept coming in telling him they made this or that and asked if he would display it.  

Now there’s a section of local art sold on consignment.  

Besides animal feed, local art, plumbing and hardware supplies Arnold now stocks a few grocery items, Homestead brand dairy products and fresh produce. Hand-dipped Homestead ice cream is on its way. 

Perhaps one of the biggest draws is the deli, run by former Village Restaurant owner Keith Jones.  

Jones said he wasn’t looking to do another business, but Arnold sold him on running the deli.  

He wanted to focus on quality with a limited number of sandwiches and sides and baked goods.  

“We make the salads and baked goods from scratch and the sandwiches with the best quality meats and no preservatives,” Jones said.  

They also sell pulled pork sandwiches and by the pound. 

On any given day you can find desserts like cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, pies and puddings. The banana pudding is the hands-down customer favorite, Arnold said.  

Customers can take their order to go or sit in one of the three booths available. 

Arnold said he’s happy the store is also turning out to be a place where people make connections. 

“It (the store) is for people who want a comfortable kind of feeling,” Arnold said.  

While Arnold serves the people who pass by on Rt. 15 on their way to and from work, he’s also looking forward to growth.  

Fueling that hope is the opening of Silk City Printing and the possibility of a medical cannabis company coming to Fork Union.  

VSI Hardware & Country Store
4312 James Madison Highway
Fork Union, Va 23055
434- 842-1851
7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday
Closed Sunday 

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