Stuckey’s is a legendary and iconic thread in the fabric of Americana. Founded in Eastman, Georgia in 1937 by WS “Sylvester” Stuckey, Sr., Stuckey’s grew into a roadside empire by the 1970s, with 368 stores in more than 30 states. Part of the charm that made Stuckey’s so iconic were its ubiquitous billboards, more than 4,000 of them, which were dotted along U.S. highways. Stuckey’s was an inextricable part of what became known as “The Great American Road Trip.”
Fast forward to 2019, Stuckey’s was on life support. The brand had gone through hard times, and its former stand-alone locations, still identifiable by their teal blue roofs, were now relics of a bygone era. Some were abandoned and boarded-up; others became home to less-than-savory businesses. By this time the brand had changed hands multiple times and become an unprofitable line item on a bigger company’s balance sheet. But Stuckey’s was about to experience a surprising rebirth.
In 2019, former Georgia legislator Stephanie Stuckey, a practicing attorney at the time, received a fateful phone call. Stuckey’s, the brand started by her grandfather all those years ago, was up for sale. With no experience in running a business, 53-year-old Stephanie defied the odds (and the advice of virtually everyone she spoke to), cashed in her entire life’s savings, and traded her future to buy back and revive the business bearing her family’s name.
Since then, Stephanie has become a legend in the business community. A perfect storm of scrappiness, shrewd business sense and passion, she’s now a bone fide rock star with all the street cred to stage a successful turnaround. And she has the receipts to prove it. Under Stephanie’s leadership, Stuckey’s and its flagship pecan log rolls are back in black.
In this episode, Stephanie discusses growing up with an iconic last name, her career as a legislator and attorney, her decision to lay it all on the line to buy back her family’s business, how she’s rebuilt the brand, and what’s next for Stuckey’s.
If you like this episode, please check out some of our past episodes featuring female entrepreneurs:
- Meet A “Salvage Angel”…Hair Stylist Carolyn Curtin Cuts A New Path In Restoration
- Actress Turned CEO: Anna Vocino’s Path to Eat Happy
- Nasim Alikhani’s Second Act: This Overnight Success Took 7 Years
Second Act Stories theme music: “Between 1 and 3 am” by Echoes