When remembering the
good ole’ days of
do you have memories of your family stopping at Stuckey’s to browse
through their pecan log rolls, pralines, and peanut brittle?
In those long ago
signs and the static of rock and roll on the AM radio, it seemed that
the high pitched roofs of Stuckey’s where simply everywhere. But
what happened? Where are they now? While you still see a few of
them here and there, its certainly not like it used to be when we were
So……. here’s the story.
Burma-Shave and so many other icons of the past, eventually got lost
in the corporate jungle, where small things are not so important as
profits. But, it was not always so, and it’s not so again today.
Stuckey’s began in the
early thirties when a man named W.S. Stuckey, Sr. began selling pecans. During these times of the great depression, Stuckey was looking for a job
in Eastman, Georgia. Though he didn’t find one he was told by a
warehouseman that he might think about buying pecans and selling them to
the warehouse. In no time, with a $35 loan from his grandmother and
an old car converted into a truck, Stuckey began traveling from house to
house buying nuts.
Sometimes he would spend
all his cash to early in the day so he would wait until the bank closed
and start writing checks. He would then sell the pecans that night
and deposit the checks the next morning before the checks had cleared.
It was a great idea for
the unemployed Stuckey who sold about $4,500 worth of pecans in his first
year. By 1933 he was doing well enough that a banker lent him $200
to expand his business. Three years later, the bank had extended his
credit line to $20,000 and Stuckey’s pecan sales reached $150,000.
In 1936, Stuckey, along
with his wife, Ethyl, decided to take advantage of the winter tourist
season by setting up a roadside stand. In addition to selling
shelled and unshelled pecans, Ethyl made batches of pecan candy that also
sold at the stand. For two years, their sales totaled $2,000 to
$3,000. In 1937, they sold the roadside stand and opened their first
retail store in Eastman, Georgia. Before long, two more stores were
built in Georgia and in 1941, a new one was opened in Hilliard, Florida.
When gas and tire rationing began in World War
II, Stuckey was forced to close all his stores except the one in Eastman. However, by this time his pecan treats had become so well known, that the
couple were commissioned to produce candy for the military.
In 1948, they started large scale candy production in a
warehouse behind the Eastman store. By that time people were
traveling again and they began to aggressively set up more stores. By 1953, the number of stores was 29 and a little more than a decade
later, in 1964, it had jumped to over 100. It
was in this year that Stuckey’s merged with Pet, Inc. with W.S. Stuckey
serving as President of Stuckey’s Inc. In 1970 Stuckey officially
retired but continued to actively participate in much of the Stuckey’s
operation until his death in 1977.
Stuckey’s death very
nearly spelled the death of his dream as well, as without his guiding hand
the chain began to falter. In 1979 Pet was acquired by IC Industries
and a few new stores were built. However, within just a couple of
years, IC Industries began to sell the Stuckey’s stores for their real
estate value and those that were not sold were closed. Within a
matter of months, what had taken W.S. Stuckey a lifetime to build was
closed in a matter of months.
Of this, Bill
Stuckey, Jr. would later say: "Instead of marketing what worked, Pet
wanted to look good on Wall Street and let the company owned stores go to
hell in order to keep the bottom line up." Pet's retorted,
saying that the
problem was " a changing world that included McDonald's, Hardee's,
Shoney's, and gas stations that sold food and novelties.”
In 1985, after a year of
negotiations, Bill Stuckey, Jr., son of the founder, finally managed to
buy back what was left of the company from IC Industries. From its peak
of 350 locations, IC Industries had reduced the number to only about 80
stores by the time Bill Stuckey was able to step in.
Today, the stores operate
under a new concept called the Stuckey’s Express Stop. Co-branding
by putting more than one name under a single room, you now are beginning
to see Stuckey’s again, with a Dairy Queen, gas station, or other
Having grown again to
over 200 franchise stores in 19 states, the secret mix of powdered sugar,
white molasses and roasted nuts can now be found again all along the
roadside, primarily now in the East U.S..
of America, updated August 2014.
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