PIKEVILLE -- If you've driven through Pikeville at any point in the last decade, it's likely you've seen Country Fruit Stand No. 3.
The bright-yellow stand has offered fresh, local produce just outside of Pikeville since 1992.
"It's all good. I mean everything is great," said Frances Summerlin of Wilson. "These peaches are out of this world. The peaches, the watermelon -- it's all the best I ever had."
Summerlin, her aunt Edna Bayless and Laura Barnes have been traveling to Pikeville to shop at the fruit stand every other weekend for the last several years. They said that the stand sells some of the best fruits and vegetables in Wayne County.
From peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe and cherries to sweet corn, tomatoes, squash and okra as well as local honey and jam, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
"I just like this one better. We have one in Wilson, but it's just not as good," Barnes said. "We've been to a lot of markets -- Kinston, Wilson ... I mean, we went to the one in Wilson, and you won't find (a peach) this big."
The stand is a family business, owned and operated by Karen and Mickey Phillips. It was originally opened in 1976 by Mickey's parents.
Mickey, who originally built mobile homes, did not want to take over the fruit stand when he was older. It was when his father decided to retire that he took over the family business.
"This used to be my daddy's thing, but he just got to where he didn't want to look at it," Mickey said. "I used to set up mobile homes, and he was going to close it and he wanted to give it to me. I didn't really want it because it was what I always did when I was little, but I took it.
"It gets to be a long, hard job. Sometimes you want to get where you want to do other things, but this what we wanted to do."
The Phillips family is also affiliated with two other fruit stands in Rosewood and Selma, which are owned by Mickey's brother and daughter.
The Pikeville fruit stand is located along the side of U.S. 117 in Pikeville underneath a large, yellow gazebo, and is open from 8 a.m. to dark every day. This is the 26th year the fruit stand has been open at 4780 U.S. 117 in the northern Wayne County town.
The stand is open from around April 5 through Christmas Eve. Seasonal fruit, as well as plants, yard decorations and homemade cheese are sold throughout the year. During the Christmas season, the stand is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Around six years ago, the owners started selling North Carolina Fraser firs before Christmas, as well as apples, oranges and a selection of homemade candy and other treats during the holiday season. Each year they sell around 400 trees, which are priced from $30 to $100.
Over the years, the family has met many different people and has many elderly regulars, who have been visiting the produce stand since it first opened.
"A lot of our customers are getting older and they used to have their own garden and they tell us all the time that they don't even plant a garden because it's so much work," Karen said.
"They consider this their garden. That's what they're saying, 'I'm going to my garden.'"