Friday, September 13, 2013

"Stuckey's" Is A Rare, Roadside Jewel These Days

     Every once in a while you will see something on the interstate while traveling that will trigger those childhood memories.  This happened to me the other day when traveling South on I-65 in Alabama.  I saw it on the way down to Florida and so I decided to stop on my way back up to Kentucky.  I stopped at a "Stuckey's," which is one of the first roadside convenience store chains in the country.  The one I visited was along I-65 at the Hope Hull, Ala, exit.  I remember in the early 70's when growing up in East Memphis, when my mom and dad and I traveled out west in 1971 and down to Florida and the east coast in 1972, we literally saw tons of "Stuckey's" it seemed like along the interstates.  Nowadays, it appears that there are very few left and they are a dying breed.  The lady at the checkout counter at the one in Hope Hull said that there was only three left in the state of Alabama. And she said that all of them now share spaces with a fast food chains which was not part of the original design of the buildings or the concept of the store.  The one we stopped on our recent trip had a Dairy Queen on the other side of the building.  In Kentucky, the former Stuckey's building at the Upton, Ky., exit has been converted into a porn shop.  But at least I did manage to buy one of those original Stuckey's pecan candy rolls and a Stuckey's T-shirt while at the one in Alabama. And I was really glad to see this particular one still hanging on.  For me, it was just totally nostalgic thing to see the inside of a Stuckey's building again and see all of the cool, little trinkets and candy that they offered to us bright eyed travelers who will never forget Stuckey's.

 Here's more about Stucky's from Wikipedia:

Stuckey's is a roadside convenience store chain found on highways throughout the United States. Stores are concentrated in the Southeast, Southwest, and Midwest, although operations have existed as far east as Connecticut and as far west as Oregon.[1] Stuckey's Corporation, the company operating the chains, has its headquarters in Silver Spring, unincorporated Montgomery County, Maryland.[2]



History[edit source | editbeta]

Early days[edit source | editbeta]

Stuckey’s originated in the early 1930s in Eastman, Georgia. When founder W. S. Stuckey, Sr., had a successful pecan harvest from his family's orchard he decided to offer a portion of the crop for sale in a lean-to roadside shed. Many Florida-bound tourists travelingU.S. Route 23 stopped to purchase the pecans.

Stuckey's advertisement from 1976 Rand McNally Road Atlas
As the roadside business continued to expand, Stuckey's wife, Ethel, created a variety of homemade pecan candies to sell at the stand, including pecan log rolls and pecan divinity. In 1937, Stuckey constructed his first store building. Much like the former roadside lean-to, the new business focused on selling these Southern candies to highway travelers. This first Stuckey’s shop added a restaurant, then a novelty section, and then gas pumps. The final addition was a teal blue roof (which would later become the company's trademark). Until the onset of World War II, Stuckey’s continued to open stores in Georgia and Florida. The number of stores declined somewhat during WWII due to the effects of wartime sugar rationing.
After WWII ended, the Stuckey’s business once again began to grow and it sold a number of new franchises. The company constructed a candy factory to supply an eventual 350-plus Stuckey's stores located throughout the continental United States. As the post-war baby boom flourished and families undertook more long-distance auto travel, Stuckey's continued to grow as they were usually constructed along major highways and frequently were paired with Texaco gas stations as well as restaurants and clean restrooms.[3]

A modern Stuckey's/BP in Yeehaw Junction, Florida

Downfall, then rise[edit source | editbeta]

In 1960, W. S. Stuckey attempted to create a hotel chain called Stuckey's Carriage Inn, but opened only four locations. In 1967, Stuckey's merged with Pet, Inc., maker ofPet Milk.[4]
The company at its peak had over 350 locations, which dwindled to fewer than 75 after a decline in the late 1970s under ownership by Pet. It was repurchased by formerCongressman W.S. Stuckey, Jr., in 1985. It currently has over 200 franchise stores in 19 states.[5]