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Stuckey’s Roadside – America’s Favorite Pit Stop Bounces Back

Stephanie Stuckey Headshot
Episode #: 247
Stuckey's Roadside - America's Favorite Pit Stop Bounces Back

Guest: Stephanie Stuckey
Topics: Stuckey’s Roadside, real estate

Transcript:

Chris Ressa 0:01
This is Retail Retold, the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa, and I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC Management.

Welcome to Retail Retold everyone. I am excited today, because we have Stephanie Stuckey, the CEO of the iconic roadside retail brand Stuckeys. Welcome to the show, Stephanie.

Stephanie Stuckey 0:33
Thank you, Chris. And I’m a fan. So I’m really happy to be on Retail Retold.

Ressa 0:38
Awesome. Stephanie, why don’t you tell a little bit about you, your journey, and who Stuckey’s is and what Stuckey’s is up to these days. I know that’s a lot, but…

Stuckey 0:48
Yeah, I’ll try to condense 80 plus years of history into a quick blurb. So I am a lawyer by training. I spent most of my professional career, some 30 years, as a practicing attorney and also a legislator. I was the state representative for 14 years. And then I was head of an environmental law firm for several years before going over to the city of Atlanta and I headed up their sustainability program. So I very much focused my career on law and sustainability and environmental issues.

Never expected that I would be running my family’s business. But not even a year ago, nine months ago, my father’s former business partners approached me about buying out their 49% interest in Stuckey’s. I have three siblings, none of them were interested in acquiring the company. So I invested my life savings into buying Stuckey’s. And then a few months later, I bought up my dad’s shares, he owned 51%. So I took, I bought the company outright.

And then I recently just merged with a partner and we jointly own the company now 50-50, very much consensus driven. We have processes in place for how we resolve major disputes, but it’s a really good model. I think it’s someone I’ve known, our families have known each other a long time. So I’ve emerged with a healthy PKN company. And we’ll be producing a healthy snack line to complement our candy line and our kitchen merchandise line.

And Stuckey’s is still the parent corporation. So that’s a little bit about me. And Stuckey’s was founded in 1937 by my grandfather as a roadside stand where he sold pecans from the family’s pecan orchard and from neighboring orchards. And he one day got the brainstorm to sell candies and local jams and jellies and quilts. And people started stopping. He built a store that became three stores for to hit.

I’m condensing a lot of history but he started selling candy to the troops to get by and traded a bunch of sugar to get through sugar rationing, made it through those war years and then after World War Two, the post war economic boom is when Stuckey’s really took off. People were getting on the roads at that point, there wasn’t an interstate highway, and there was money to be made in construction and retail construction and commercial retail and so he started building Stuckey’s stores all over the Interstate Highway System.

Well, interstate came along in 1952. And at its peak, there were 368 stores in 40 states. And 4000 billboards, a trucking company and a candy plant. He sold the company in 1964, the year before I was born. And the company was out of family hands for decades. And we suffered. We were also not only a victim of being owned by a Chicago railroad conglomerate that did not care about Stuckey’s and sold most of our stores just for the real estate value. But we were also a victim of the oil embargo.

People were not traveling as much and the Airline Deregulation Act, suddenly airfare got a lot cheaper. So people started flying more. So Stuckey’s is really, our history is really in very many ways aligned with the history of America and the great American Road Trip. That was our peak. And we peaked when there was a great American Road Trip. My father acquired the company back in 1985. He was running three other companies.

He’s a very successful businessman. So he got Stuckey’s back in the family and ran it until about a decade ago when he sold his main company to Warren Buffett and then Stuckey’s was left with the skeleton crew for the past decade running the company, hasn’t had a CEO or president at leadership. So when I came in, I was ready to take over and start running the company. So I’ve got big plans. I’m sorry, that was a lot but this like got crazy wild road trip for Stuckey’s since 1937 to today.

Ressa 5:06
That is amazing, what an incredible story. So a couple of things. How many locations do you have today?

Stuckey 5:14
We have 67 locations of those 20 are what people would traditionally consider a Stuckey’s, the standalone store. Those of you who remember stopping maybe in the 70s, during our heyday, we had that sloped teal roof that was very distinctive in the latest framework as you walk in. So there’s 20 of those still remaining. And then the remainder are stores that my dad created that are called Stuckey’s Express, and its cobranding.

He started cobranding in the mid 80s. Well before you would see that in a lot of retail outlets. Nowadays, it’s quite common, you’ll pull over at a pilot and you’ll see a Wendy’s and a Dunkin, and a variety of other brands that are co-branded under one roof. My father started doing that in the mid 80s with Dairy Queen and Stuckey’s because he ran interstate incorporation. So we have, the remainder of our stores, majority of our stores are co-branded under another roof.

Ressa 6:06
Wow.

Stuckey 6:09
Yeah. So we’ve got big plans, we are looking to expand, we’re looking to start with more standalone build-to-suit stores and renovating those existing stores.

Ressa 6:18
Are you going to continue cobranding stores?

Stuckey 6:23
To a limited extent, I will, quite a few of those locations are what I affectionately referred to as “fixer uppers”. I think sometimes it’s hard to retain your brand identity and not be diluted when you’re coupled with other brands. And I very much wants Stuckey’s to have its distinctive space on America’s roadsides. I like to say we’re a roadside oasis.

And we have a special experience that gets diluted often when you’re, when you’re under another roof. There are some instances where I think that model works very effectively. So it’s on a case by case basis. But really my focus moving forward is the standalone store concept.

Ressa 7:03
That’s really awesome. At where you’re at, it makes a lot of sense to me that you you’re rebuilding this iconic brand and letting it stand on its own and is probably a good path forward, at least in the beginning. And as you’re growing market share again, these other locations now that aren’t the Express stores. These are franchised?

Stuckey 7:29
Yes, we do not have any corporate on stores currently, my plan moving forward is that we will have at least one flagship corporate store that will be used for training purposes and innovation and sort of our showcase model store, hopefully somewhere near Atlanta or Middle Georgia. But I would like to see a few more corporate owned stores.

Frankly, right now with our internal management capacity and the capital needs. It makes sense for us to expand using the franchise concept and have had the corporate entity supervisor run the franchise program and pay attention to the brand and focus on really branding and marketing is our top priority.

Ressa 8:11
That, that makes a lot of sense of branding, marketing your top priority . You’re all over social media. So it’s working. You guys are it’s definitely working. Since you’re, just curious, since your social media spree and you’re been all over it. Are you starting to see sales climb?

Stuckey 8:30
Yes, so in the past month or two, we have had contacts, unsolicited from some fairly large size B2B outlets that have asked about selling our products. We’ve secured a couple of new contracts. And my vice president said, ‘you wouldn’t believe who contacted us today!’. We, for example, we’re we’ve got 125 Ace Hardware stores in the Midwest that have agreed to stock our product in their stores.

So we have a whole merchandise line, which distinguishes us from a lot of the retail roadside operations, in fact, I would say distinguishes us from all of them. We have our own branded line of candies and nuts and merchandise that sell very well in other retail stores. So Ace Hardware makes a lot of sense for us. Especially right now when you’re looking at retail is suffering because of COVID. But there are some retail outfits that are thriving and hardware and home and garden are doing quite well, right.

Ace is a good niche brand, it’s franchise operated just like us many of those locations are family owns, they’ll own one or two or a handful of French Ace Hardware. So it’s a really good fit for us. And I think that’s in part to our our marketing and just letting folks know we’re still out there. That’s the number one question frankly I was getting, I’m getting less of, but are you still around, what ever happened to Stuckey’s?

My first month after taking over I had Google Alerts and a Google Alert popped up, there was the article about Stuckey’s posted. And it was our top 10 stores that are now bankrupt. And we were like number eight. So I called the author and I said, we’re not bankrupt, and we’ve never been bankrupt. And he did another piece.

He said, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize you’re still around. And there’s actually a Stuckey that runs a company and I said, yeah, a lot of family hands. But yes, it’s now, it’s in the family. He did a great article on us. And so we turned into a very positive experience. But it was pretty funny. A lot of people were questioning still around.

Ressa 10:43
The, unbelievable. And when did, did your grandfather start franchising? Did the, he started franchising?

Stuckey 10:51
Yeah, way back like he was franchising before the Interstate Highway System. He was on the roads before there really were roads. And I think the amazing thing about him is just his resiliency. Because when the, when Eisenhower passed the Interstate Highway Act, my grandfather just moved on over to the interstate highway system and he got to know the DOT staff and all the states and figured out you know, he followed the DOT proceedings and knew where the highways were being located.

And he would start buying up land at the exits. And he just he just transitioned. He was he was very scrappy. He came from nothing. He was a product of the Depression. He had like five jobs when he started Stuckey’s. I knew him well. I was 12 when he passed away. And he got up every morning at 4 or 5am He was a hard worker. Yeah, just really shoe leather. You know, working hard and learned by doing.

Ressa 12:01
Inspiring, inspiring, for sure. You know, the, the you don’t hear those hard working stories anymore. And we need more Stuckey stories in America for sure. And so it’s now back in family hands, and there’s, you know, this push for growth. If I walk into a Stuckey’s today, what’s my experience gonna be like?

Stuckey 12:32
Depends. So one of my top priorities is to fix up the existing stores. And if you follow up my social media, you’ll see I’m very authentic. And I encourage people, please stop at Stuckey’s, but I also say, we need some TLC. I had one post where I said, just like this country is a fixer upper. I love America. We’re hurting right now. In many ways. There’s a lot of civil unrest, there’s a pandemic.

There’s a lot of anxiety about what’s going to happen with the political campaigns and, and we’re not a perfect country and Stuckey’s is not perfect. We’ve got our challenges. So I will say if you walk into our store in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, you’ll have an awesome experience. If you go into our store in Perry, Georgia, or Somerton, South Carolina or Anna Waco, Texas. By the way, I love the names of these towns, Pexico, Kansas, we’re in small town, rural America.

We’re on the highways and byways and backroads of this great country of ours, so in some of these stores will have an amazing experience you’ll walk in, you’ll see like in Hattiesburg, they make their own fudge, they have boiled peanuts, you have this great sense of place. There’ll be Mississippi souvenirs and local souvenirs that you can take home. There’ll be our classic candies, my grandfather always did a wall of candy on the way to the bathroom.

So you would have to, almost everyone going to a Stuckey’s is going to pull over and need to use the facilities. So he made sure they walked by the wall of candy. And our original stores still have that, it’s at the back wall, it says ‘Fine Praline Candies’ in this old timey font. And that’s how you’ll know it’s an old store. But I loved how he really gave some thought to that. The other thing he did was he never had full service, sit-down restaurants.

He wanted people to go to a snack bar, get a quick, quick snack and he wanted them walking around the stores so they could buy his merchandise. So the way he structured the retail interior environment was very much geared towards generating an experience but also generating sales. So I thought it would be a great experience. Our stores that are fixer uppers, I’ll say you know some of them need better displays and need better signage and need some love. Maybe a paint job or two.

One of our stores I will say, Hope Hall Alabama, I visited right when I started on visiting every single store this year and I’m having so much fun roadtripping even with COVID, I’m being careful. But I went to the hope Hall Alabama store right after I took over. It needed some love. I talked with the owners, they were very hard working and cared about the brand. And I went back about six weeks ago, and they had it a fresh coat of paint.

They changed around some of the displays, they put a fresh signage, it looked 100% better. So I think you’ll start seeing that experience more and more. The last thing I’ll say is, I have made sure that all the Yelp comments, all the Google review comments, all the online web comments on our stores go directly to my personal inbox, or my Stuckey’s inbox, I read every comment, and I will respond so you have a good experience or a bad experience, or have some constructive feedback. I am paying attention to that.

And I will personally call the franchisee and discuss with them whatever the issue is because I’m dedicated to cleaning up the stores and making my grandfather proud.

Ressa 16:12
That’s incredible. Awesome. Great to hear. I’m mind blown this story is fantastic. I love that this old time retail brand is coming back to life right now. And you know, too many times the headline news about retail today is, it’s going away and not coming back. And this one is, you know, set the other direction which is fascinating.

In the future, what do you see? I’ll call convenience retailing, you use a word we don’t hear often, which is roadside retailing. And I think that’s an interesting word. You know, the roadside retail stops. And, but in the convenience store world, that market is on fire, it has been for a while, it’s very hard to compete on Amazon with, you know, if you just want to stop and grab a pack of gum and a diet soda real quick.

And, you know, they’re gobbling up land and market share all over the country. What do you, in the future of Stuckey’s, what do you think are the differentiators between you and these other convenience stores, which some might be roadside brands?

Stuckey 17:24
Yeah, so we are, we’re sort of a hybrid, we are in the C store market. But I’ll say we’re a C store that stands for candy store. Because we very much have our own unique product line. And I’m probably the worst person that anyone will ever want to road trip with because I literally pull over it almost every exit, I am constantly looking at what the competitive landscape is and what the different roadside locations, what they stock, what’s their product line, how are they marketing, what’s their price point.

And I have to say even though I have great respect for these huge truck stops and roadside establishments, we offer something very different in our product line, like, too bad you can’t see this, but I’m holding up a rubber alligator, we sell the heck out of these, we sell coonskin caps. I think too often in retail you hear retail experience, you hear that just thrown out a lot and everyone talks about they want to have an experience but stuck he’s really does have an experience.

And it’s not just the present. It’s that we’re nostalgic. And that’s our differentiator. I can’t tell you how many times every single day someone calls me with the Stuckey story. We’ve got a guest book on our website where people share their stories.

And on our Facebook page, all our social media, stories about like on their first date, this couple that was married for over 50 years, that the husband gave the wife of pecan lago every year their anniversary he gives her a pecan lago, or a couple that stopped at Stuckey’s on their honeymoon, and they took the picture and they sent it to me 40 years later. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you get that.

You don’t get those stories at truck stops of America. I just don’t think you do. And so that makes us special. Again, I’m not. I’m just saying we’re different, you know, maybe not better. We’re different. You know, and we we have something extremely unique to offer.

Ressa 19:24
Yeah, one of the things I do think that makes you unique is you have your own product line. So you’re, you know, you’re direct to consumer brand, right? There’s products you have that I can’t find anywhere else. You just made a deal with Ace Hardware.

So you’ll find some of these hardware but if you want certain product lines, they’re only at a Stuckey’s, you’re your own direct to consumer brand. From 1937. What are some of those hot ones you mentioned? I think you mentioned me earlier you go into a pecan conference this week or something like that.

Stuckey 19:57
Yeah, the Georgia Pecan Growers Association Conference. So we all we started with the humble pecan, which is the only edible nut native to the US unless you want to count the black walnut, which I think taste very bitter. I don’t count the black walnut. I’d say snack nut. But the cashew, the pistachio, almonds, peanuts, not even not it’s a legume. So the pecan is the native nut, it’s extremely healthy, it’s good for the environment.

And it’s made in Georgia, 90% of the world’s pecan production comes from the US and most other pecan crop, Georgia makes more pecans than any other state in the country. So we’re very proud of our pecan beginnings. And so we’re we’re all about the pecan, you can get pecan log rolls, pecan turtles, pecan divinity, pecan pralines. The list can go on and on,

Ressa 21:06
Pecan pies. And it’s not just for the holidays, year round my pecan pie, I’m a chocolate person but outside of chocolate. I think pecan pie might be my favorite dessert on earth. It is a good pecan pie is hard to come by. But when you find it it is you know, easy to do, average hard to do, amazing, but I love good pecan pies.

Stuckey 21:24
Yeah, and some of our stores. Not all of them carry this but many pecan pies. Just little snack sizes. And you can put chocolate chips in them. Okay. Best of both worlds.

Ressa 21:36
I love it. So, the here now what did you mentioned marketing and branding, marketing? What are you focused on right now? Is it opening new locations? Is it marketing and branding? Is it fixing up? It’s like everything? Well, if you were gonna say between now and year end, what are the top priorities for Stephanie? Like what makes 2020 a successful business year if you do what?

Stuckey 21:58
Yeah, well, because we’re coming upon q4. I will say between now and year end, I will be very focused on sales of our branded merchandise. So that would be our hats, our shirts, our mugs, and then our product, our food products. And that will be on our various sales channels. So either in-store sales, but really driving online sales starting with, I guess Black Friday, this year will be online Black Friday, but starting really Black Friday on.

And we’re gearing up now to make sure we’ve got all of our products and inventory and all of our gift boxes and everything organized. So I’ll be pushing sales big time. I’m also in the process of working on what structure I’ll have for franchise expansion. But that’s not going to happen until 2021. But making sure I put those deals in place, I’m getting financing together, I’m getting our strategic partners in place, we got to build our team.

So I’m actively looking for a development partner to help us expand our roadside presence. And that would be someone who could also help renovate the existing store. So we’re betting developers, so really want to make sure that that’s in place for restarting 2021 hit the ground running. And also working on corporate sales. So I know the corporate gift programs have dried up somewhat because of COVID. But we are still very much open to selling Stuckey’s gift boxes for corporate gifts.

Ressa 23:33
That’s really cool. Really cool. Well, good luck. I hope you crush it this q4. I will I’m gonna go check out Stuckey’s and buy my family some Stuckey’s merchandise and get it sent here.

Stuckey 23:52
You can sample it. I’d be happy to send you a gift box.

Ressa 23:57
All right, I’ll send you my address

Stuckey 24:00
On your show you get some free candy.

Ressa 24:02
I love it, sounds great. The next part is show is story. And we were you know we’ve talked last week about some things that I found fascinating. And you have one it starts with a ‘U’, what’s the town? Unadilla, where is Unadilla?

Stuckey 24:22
Unadilla South Georgia. It was number three back in like early 1940s, before the war hit and then after the war, it was rebuilt, that location has been around a while.

Ressa 24:32
It’s still around?

Stuckey 24:34
It’s now a store within a store. So that is one that I have targeted. I’ve got a list of where I want to start rebuilding new stores and have that look and feel the original stores and that is definitely on my list because I want to revive what my grandfather made great.

Ressa 24:49
So I found some of the things pretty interesting and I hadn’t heard before. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about Unadilla, Georgia.

Stuckey 24:59
So Unadilla will be a little bit of a story that applies to many of the locations because my grandfather had a method and most of the stores use this method for citing his stores. So the story I tell that is absolutely true, is how he figured out the space between his stores was he would get in the car and drink a cup of coffee when he started driving.

And when he needed to pull over and use the facilities, that’s how far he would space his stores. So very scientific. Like I said earlier, he’s into shoe leather marketing and a site analysis. So another thing he would do is…

Ressa 25:38
So that’s just fascinating to me, right? We have all these fancy tools today that we use. And what better than the, you know, how long before you have to use the restroom to do a roadside stop. And it makes total sense. It’s amazing.

Stuckey 25:55
Yeah, I mean, he just studied, he just studied retail, like, I wish he could have been on the show, because he would say so much, like he would sit in the parking lot of his stores and study the license plates, where people were coming from. And for some reason, my dad told me, he was obsessed with Ohio. Like he thought if he had people coming from Ohio, stopping his stores, that was like a great sign.

I think he was actually prescient, because Ohio has determined presidential politics for decades now. So it’s kind of a bellwether state, you got to pay attention to what people in Ohio like because, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation, maybe, so he studied license plates. Another thing he would do when figuring out where to cite stores is he always wanted to be on the right side of the exit. So it would be very easy to pull over. And he wanted to be up on a hill if at all possible.

So as you like, pull up, like you can see this in Unadilla, as you pull up and you’ll see, like off to the right, that’s where he wanted to store sighted. And he wanted to stores sighted on the right side, heading north from Florida. So his whole idea is that he had he called him Yankee. So no disrespect, I’m just channeling my grandfather, Yankees would come down to Florida for vacation.

And then on their way back is when they would want to spend their money at roadside stands because as they’re going on vacation, you’re saving up your money for your hotel for your, for the attractions for your food. So you don’t want to spend your money when you’re heading south.

On your way back, you’re ready to unload your money. It’s okay to fill the car up with kitschy stuff because you’re only going to drive another day. So it totally made sense. People are gonna spend their money driving north, so he had his stores on the right side of the road up on the top of a hill traveling north. I mean he really…

Ressa 27:52
Incredible. That is incredible. That is so true. Yeah. And incredible. And I don’t know where that’s in our analytics programs these days. But I doubt it is and that’s, that’s the the art behind some of this that a computer maybe can’t pick up that’s fascinating.

Stuckey 28:12
Yeah, and billboards, billboards, billboards, he used to joke he had more money and more inventory in billboards than candy. And he said he had so many billboards, he sometimes lost sight of where they were, that he’d start, you know, 100 miles out. And then he would get as close like, as you got closer to the store.

Obviously, the billboards are spaced closer together. Till I was like, you know, 200 yards, ‘Stuckey’s’, like right up to it. And even on his gravestone, his gravestone looks like a little billboard. It’s got the Stuckey’s logo on it. It cracks me up. Wow. He was like, proud until the end.

Ressa 28:55
That’s amazing. That’s amazing. And the, you mentioned before, that’s how he was citing locations at Unadilla and all the others he did have. You talked to me about the how he was designing the stores.

Stuckey 29:13
So Stuckey’s, those of you who remember us in the in the day, and we still have a few of the blue roof original stores intact. He came up with this distinctive sloped gabled roof that was shingled and it was a teal, turquoise blue color. And you could see it from a distance. So that was just as much a marketing tool as his billboards, the look of the stores.

And they’re so distinctive that even to this day, the stores that have been sold off sadly and turned into other things. I get photographs every single week from people that say this used to be a Stuckey’s, right, and it’s now a strip club or something. There’s actually a couple that are strip clubs. But that distinctive blue roof is so distinctive that decades later people still look at it and say, that was a Stuckey’s.

And so that was that was part of his marketing. And he also had, I mean, it’s no secret why most of these fast food chains have red and yellow is their colors. It’s, it shows up from a distance. So he had that turquoise roof with the red and the yellow, and bam, you could you could see the Stuckey stores.

Ressa 30:31
Wow. And the, that’s just, that’s just awesome. So are you going to keep that nostalgic piece as you build stores for the future?

Stuckey 30:42
It is my goal. So one of our challenges is sometimes we will take an existing building that was not a Stuckey’s before and turn it into a Stuckey’s. So that obviously creates a challenge. We’ve got a different roofline. So we, you have to deal with what you have. But my goal is to have some new build stores that have that original roof as much as possible. I’m already hearing from designers and architects and developers about cost. But there’s something special about that, that roof, there really is.

Ressa 31:15
We can talk about costs till I’m blue in the face, you want to call me after we could talk about costs.

Stuckey 31:20
Right? There’s a way and I think there’s a way like to modernize the look, but still be true to that shape. So , and the color. Certainly, you can recreate that original teal color. And I actually have some original architectural plans that I found in my grandfather’s papers.

So I’ve kept those and I show them every time I talk to a developer, I pull out the architectural plans and say, All right, I know it’s gotta be up to code, but this is the design, the look, the feel. That special experience I think people still crave when they pull over on the side of the road.

Ressa 31:59
Incredible. This has been, you know, one of the more fascinating stories I’ve heard just overall, not just about Unadilla, but appreciate the bathroom break citing and the you know, north side, because that’s where people spend their money on the north side, not on the south side. So all that stuff. Fantastic. Really appreciate you coming on and sharing. I wish you nothing but the best to Stuckey’s, your fire is contagious.

And I think you are going to do some awesome things. And it won’t be easy. As we talked about you were talking to some bankers and some people beforehand, it is not easy, but I think you are set up to crush it come 2021 and beyond. You’re welcome. With that, that brings us to the last part of our show retail wisdom. And so I have three questions for you. Are you ready, Stephanie?

I’m ready.

All right. Question one, what is your best piece of commercial real estate advice to everyone out there?

Stuckey 33:04
So I think mine will be different than what you hear on the other podcast because you have a lot of commercial real estate professionals and retail professionals who’ve grown up and you know, in the business or been in the business for decades, that is not me, I have a different perspective. So I’m going to answer from from my perspective, which is brand, it’s all about the brand. I think that’s what makes a retail operation distinctive. People don’t buy Nike because they want to buy a sneaker they buy Nike because they’re buying a brand.

They’re buying a way of life, they would Apple same with so many of these iconic brands. And so just don’t lose sight of that I do I listen to all these podcasts and watch these YouTube videos about how to be successful in business. And so many of these entrepreneurs build these businesses, and they just want to sell them and make a lot of money.

That’s not me. I just want to make Stuckey’s great again. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t say great again, that’s not meant to be a political reference. Wonderful again, awesome. But that’s what I’m about, I want to make road trips fun again and revive the great American Road Trip. So for me it’s it’s about brand and I think that’s what commercial retail needs more of.

Ressa 34:17
Totally agree, no one has said that yet on the show. I appreciate that perspective. But totally agree. I will tell you, you know, I think that would, you know, the more you push that you’re trying to bring back the great American Road Trip and connect Stuckey’s to that, I think you’re gonna have some viral moments on social media. So keep that up because I think that that is a niche you don’t hear a lot of people in and I think there’s riches and niches and I think that you should keep promoting. That’s a great little tagline.

Stuckey 34:51
And I’m doing it! I’m road tripping.

Ressa 34:52
I mean, you are road tripping, I see you everywhere. I see you all over the country.

Two: What extinct retailer do you wish you’d come back from the dead?

Stuckey 35:04
Oh, that’s so easy for me Howard Johnson’s restaurants.

Ressa 35:08
Oh my god. Speaking of roadside, Howard Johnson’s restaurants

Stuckey 35:11
Oh man, that Hojo Cola, which I hated as a kid, I would give just about anything to have an ice cold Coca Cola right now and there’s fried clams. There are no more Howard Johnson’s restaurants in America. They’re all gone.

Ressa 35:29
Wow, yeah. And what did you I’m curious, what was your grandfather’s take on Howard Johnson’s because, uh, you know, they’re, uh, they were a roadside staple back in the day, obviously. So what was his take on them?

Stuckey 35:41
I don’t know about Howard Johnson’s. I do know, just because I’ve talked to the other founders. Sadly, I didn’t know through my grandfather. But I do know that my grandfather knew true at Kathy with Chick fil A and respected him greatly that, so the Georgia franchises he knew, and he knew Joe Rogers with Waffle House, one of the cofounders of Waffle House. I met Joe Rogers a couple of times, and, Andrew Cathy a couple times before they died.

And both of them were very kind and told me they knew my grandfather, and they respected him. So I know he had a lot of respect for these other brands, these other entrepreneurs. He was competitive, but also very kind and, and decent and ethical. So I think, more than anything, he felt respect for these other entrepreneurs that were on America’s highways.

Ressa 36:29
Awesome. That’s really cool. Last one, you mentioned yoga. I am on Lululemon’s website. They have the mapped out Highrise Tight Yoga Pants 28 inch available in two colors. Black, Glacier gray and black brick.

What is that retailing for right now? I will, it is on sale.

Stuckey 36:59
I’m gonna bomb on this because I don’t buy any new clothes for myself. I because I’m into sustainability. I took a pledge three years ago to not buy any new clothes. Everything I buy is consignment and thrift. So and I just know pricing for Stuckey’s merch, so I’m just gonna I don’t know. I think that sounds pretty expensive. I’m gonna say $129.

Ressa 37:22
Wow, it normally retails for 128. So you’re spot on very close. That’s a merchant right there knowing what other merchandise goes for. It is on sale for $59. But you know, it is normally 128. So.

Stuckey 37:35
I was $1 off. Do I get a toaster for that?

Ressa 37:39
I’ll have to send you something. Yes.

Well, listen, this has been great, Stephanie. Truly, thank you for taking me through that story. Really awesome part of American history that I don’t get a lot of history lessons on this show. So, really cool. Thank you so much. Again, good luck. If there’s any way I can help you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Stuckey 38:04
Well, thank you so much.

Ressa 38:06
Thank you.

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