February 12, 2007

Stuckey's

And the man behind the brand is...
William Stuckey

Like so many others William Stuckey was desperately searching for a way to make a living during the Depression. In 1931 the 21-year old Stuckey borrowed $35 from his grandmother - her life savings - to peddle pecans.

Stuckey walked from house to house in his native Georgia buying nuts.
If he used up his $35 too early in the day he waited until the banks closed and wrote checks he knew he couldn’t cover. On these days he stayed out selling pecans until he could be at the bank the following morning to cover checks.

Diligently he built his pecan business this way. In 1936 he sold $150,000 worth of pecans. He opened his first candy store in Eastman, a small town in central Georgia, in 1938. Wife Ethel was the candy cook.

When World War II ended Stuckey was one of the first to recognize that Americans would become increasingly mobile. He began building distinctive pecan shops, with blue roofs and red and yellow signs, along the country’s new highways. In addition to enjoying a pecan roll weary motorists could fill up at Stuckey’s pumps as well.

In eight years Stuckey had 29 pecan shops, building his business on extensive billboard advertising. He awarded franchises to friends and employees. “A lot of people in town own interests in the stores,” he boasted at one point. “They all profited by it. There are more Cadillacs in Eastman, Georgia than in any town this size in the South, I reckon.”

Stuckey sold his business, now with 160 stores, to Pet, Inc. in 1964. He stayed with Pet as a vice-president and continued operating the highway stops until 1970 when he retired. Stuckey’s chain had grown to nearly 300 stores by then. Stuckey, a former Georgia state legislator, continued enjoying pecans until his death in 1977.

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