Stephanie Stuckey recently became the shepherd of her family’s brand. And now she’s on a mission to visit its flock of roadside stores around the nation.
Her grandfather, W.S. Stuckey Sr. opened his first Georgia pecan stand in 1937. As the Eastman-based company grew, the convenience stores became synonymous with their famous pecan log rolls. At its height, there were more than 350 locations of the family business across the country.
And while things have changed since then, Stephanie Stuckey is eager and ready to usher the business into a new era.
And for her, she says that starts with a ground game. Since taking over as CEO last November, she has been on a mission to visit all of Stuckey’s current locations: more than 90, mostly concentrated in the South.
“You need to be boots on the ground and see the stores,” she told the AJC. “You’ve got to know who your customer is and what’s selling.”
Even though she’s now at the helm of a decades-old brand, Stephanie Stuckey says she sees herself as an entrepreneur. Although, instead of starting from scratch, she’s “on first base and stealing to second.”
Like many brick and mortar businesses, Stuckey’s has faced its fair share of hardships, but Stephanie Stuckey sees this time as an opportunity.
As she notes, people on the road still have to stop: for gas, a restroom and a snack. And she says, that stop ought to be an experience.
That’s why she wants to reignite some of the retro feel of the 1960s and ‘70s that the stores were once known for.
It’s that nostalgia that she often hears about when she’s on the road visiting locations — and what sometimes gets the business nods from Hollywood when trying to recreate a mid-century Southern scene, like the recent Stuckey’s cameo in Martin Scorsese’s new film “The Irishman.”
As she embarks on her journey of visiting stores this year, Stephanie Stuckey says she’s doing so with an open mind.
Of the locations, there are currently 16 standalone stores, the rest are store-within-store displays. But Stephanie Stuckey is eyeing the business’ future. She’d like to add at least 10 new standalone stores in the next few years, some of which she would like to be corporate owned, a departure from the company’s franchise model.
She’s even thinking about mixing things up on the pecan roll front: perhaps adding some new flavors like peanut butter and hazelnut. Although, she’s quick to note they will always carry the original recipe her grandparents made famous.
In addition to the physical stores, Stuckey is focused on increasing the brand’s online presence — meaning lovers of the pecan log roll can now buy the treat on the company’s site and Amazon.
But as she helps guide the company’s new chapter, Stuckey says it’s important that each store maintain its individual identity as well — what works in Florida may not sell in Mississippi, she says.
Which, she says, is why it’s important that she show up, and this year, she plans on doing just that.
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