Stuckey’s Redux

Stephanie Stuckey is reinventing America’s roadside oasis.

In the 1960s, highway billboards invited us to “Refresh-Relax-Refuel” at 368 teal-roofed Stuckey’s, including one in Mappsville, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. With its Texaco gas, pecan log rolls, and kitschy souvenirs like coonskin caps and Mexican jumping beans, Stuckey’s created road trip memories for generations.

Founded in 1937 by W. Sylvester Stuckey, Sr. as a Georgia roadside pecan stand, the brand faltered after the family sold to Pet Milk in the 1970s. 

Billy Stuckey, son of the founder and Stephanie’s father, purchased what was left of the Stuckey’s chain in 1984. Billy focused on pairing Stuckey’s with his existing Interstate Dairy Queen business. When he sold the DQ business in 2012 and retired, Stuckey’s began a downward descent.

An Atlanta native and longtime legislator in Georgia’s General Assembly, Stephanie bought the business in 2019, when it carried $163,000 in debt. Now she’s focusing on reviving the Stuckey’s brand. 

Virginia Living: Did an emotional pull inspire you to return Stuckey’s to the family? 

Stephanie Stuckey: I wanted to make Stuckey’s a household name again. I was certainly attached to it, and I wanted to see it become profitable.  

VL: How’s business now? 

SS: I bought a fixer-upper. For decades, Stuckey’s did no marketing. I shifted the focus from stores to our classic candies and within six months we’d erased the debt and were making a small profit. By 2021, Stuckey’s gross sales totaled $13 million—up from $2 million in 2020.

VL: How did you pull it off? 

SS: Candy and nuts account for half our revenue. We make chocolate turtles, pralines, pecan log rolls, snack pecans, and divinity—a nougat candy with fudge and marshmallow. They’re sold at Food Lion, on our website, and we’re exploring gas station distribution. To secure Stuckey’s for another 85 years, I also purchased a pecan shelling and candy plant in Wren, Georgia.

VL: How many of the original Stuckey’s stores remain open today? 

SS: Five. In Virginia, the Mappsville location is among the five oldest Stuckey’s still in operation.

The others are in Summerton, South Carolina; Paxico, Kansas; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Winnie, Texas.

VL: Do you still see Stuckey’s as “A Roadside Oasis”? 

SS: Definitely. We’re bringing back an American icon. People are sharing their Stuckey’s memories on our website’s guestbook. Stopping to shop is part of the road trip experience, so we’ve added Stuckey’s socks, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and trucker hats, with more products coming.

I do a lot of public speaking and I get interesting feedback. One man came up to me in Oklahoma City to say, “You don’t know me, but I wanted to thank you for giving me back a piece of my childhood.” That meant a lot.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue.

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