Stuckey's is a candy maker known for its pecan log rolls and kitschy souvenirs, which it sells at its convenience stores along highways in the United States.
Stuckey’s started as a humble roadside stand on the back roads of Georgia in 1937, then grew to become America’s first roadside retail chain in the 1960s. You’d be hard pressed to find someone back then who didn’t light up at the thought of pulling off the interstate at a Stuckey’s to fuel up and grab the famous pecan log roll.
Family-owned and thriving, in 1960 Stuckey’s was at its peak with almost 400 stores in 40 states. But like most successful family-owned companies at that time, the Stuckey family decided to sell the business, taking it out of the family's hands.
That’s until Stephanie Stuckey came into the picture. Granddaughter of the Stuckey’s founder, she decided to buy back the company in November 2019.
The catch? Stuckey’s was now six figures in debt.
Armed with a passion for the family business and a love of pecans, Stephanie set out to rebuild her family’s legacy and figure out how to make it profitable.
The first thing Stephanie did when she bought back her family business was figure out which product was generating the most profit. Unsurprisingly, it was the pecan log roll—the candy the company had been making for 85+ years—which was consistently their best seller.
After outsourcing production for over 50 years, Stephanie could taste the difference. It wasn’t the same as her grandmother's original recipe and she knew that if she was going to turn this company around, she needed that authentic taste.
So, she bought a candy plant and a pecan shelling plant in the small town of Wrens, Georgia. A huge part of her storytelling is using social media to share a behind-the-scenes look at how Stuckey’s makes the candy.
“TikTok has been key to my success because I can visually capture how the chocolate is being made, and people love it,” says Stephanie.
Using Hootsuite’s new TikTok integration, Stephanie schedules TikToks that showcase candy making, her family story, and her road trip finds throughout the US. And with Stuckey’s reaching over 16,000 followers on TikTok, it’s clear there’s an appetite for this engaging content.
When Stephanie set out to build back the company, she knew the way forward was storytelling. To engage with the right demographic and get her story out, she knew social media would be the key to success.
“Social media has been a game changer for Stuckey’s,” says Stephanie. “I think for all small businesses, it’s the great equalizer.”
When Stephanie first started out, she had almost no experience with social media. She knew Stuckey's more than anyone else, so she started out by simply committing to post content consistently every single day.
“By posting every day, I grew a following,” says Stephanie. “And I am by no means an expert in social, but Hootsuite brought the resources I needed to the table and became an extension of my team.”
Using Hootsuite Analytics, Stephanie discovered that the best performing posts were the ones that weaved in the history of Stuckey’s. Stephanie doubled down on the nostalgia around the Stuckey’s brand, especially on her LinkedIn account, where she consistently tells compelling stories about her journey—and has grown her following to over 100,000 in less than two years.
“Hootsuite Analytics allows me to look at my metrics every week and understand what post got the most engagement and why,” she explains. “And then I do more of that and do it better. That’s how I’ve gone from 200 LinkedIn followers to almost 100,000 in less than two years.”
Social media has been a game changer for Stuckey’s. I think for all small businesses, it’s the great equalizer.
After touring old Stuckey’s locations, Stephanie realized just how much work she had to do to completely turn around the company. There were old Stuckey’s buildings that hadn’t been touched in decades. Her social presence was cheery and upbeat, and didn’t reflect the blood, sweat and tears she was putting in to turn the company around. So she posted a photo on LinkedIn of what the store actually looked like with the caption, “Stuckey’s is a fixer upper, and our company needs a lot of TLC, and I’m determined to bring this company around.”
After posting, she received the usual 20 or so likes. Within an hour, that number hit a thousand. And within a month, Stephanie had reached a million people with this single post.
“That’s when I knew I was on to something and that’s when I really started gaining traction,” she says. “It’s sharing the honest journey with your audience, being yourself and being real.”
As her engagement skyrocketed, Stephanie started connecting with C-suite level connections through LinkedIn, opening up her business to more opportunities. One day, she posted on LinkedIn about how Stuckey’s pecans used to be on Delta flights, and how great it would be if they were an in-flight snack again. The next day, she received an email from the CEO of Delta about the post.
“Social media really is the great equalizer—you can connect with high-level CEOs that you never thought were attainable,” she says. “If you’re a small, scrappy comeback brand and your message is right and consistent, and you’re using tools like Hootsuite to help you along the way, you can absolutely get to that next level.”
Stephanie’s goal for the company she has called “an 80-year-old startup” is to be the go-to brand for pecans in the US. With online sales increasing 750% in two years and a growing base of loyal fans, Stuckey’s is making a comeback and well on its way to becoming just that.
“Pecans are the only nut native to America, and you don’t see pecans in the snack aisles of grocery or convenience stores,” she says. “I want to turn that around. Not only do I want the pecan to have its rightful place on America’s snack aisles, I want it to be Stuckey’s pecan snacks.”