Travelers driving north and south on Interstate 95 will pass 24 billboards inviting them to stop and purchase mouth-watering products like “Fresh Georgia Peaches — Exit 58” and “Georgia Peach Ice Cream” at Georgia Peach World and the Eulonia Country Store in Townsend.
The young entrepreneur behind the bold, simple marketing campaign, Jason Reott, is running more than a fruit stand. He is building a rapidly growing Georgia peach empire grounded in both the knowledge of what his customers want and smart business practices learned at the UGA SBDC in Brunswick.
“People love buying fresh Georgia peaches. They taste great,” says Reott. “And people traveling on I-95 want a year-round attraction that will give them a taste of southern hospitality.”
Reott first sold peaches in Macon during the summer. Along with his father Joel Reott, he thanks David Lewis, area director of the UGA SBDC in Brunswick, with helping him move his business off the back of a truck and into year-round stores.
He first approached Lewis in 2013. “We wanted a year-round business,” says Reott. “We wanted to employ people. So I went to David and told him I wanted to open a country store. That was my business plan.”
“I didn’t know how to make paychecks, pay sales taxes or run a retail business,” he continues. “David taught me how to do all of these things. I would visit him two times a week, and he moved us up to the next level. With his help we were able to hire people, do QuickBooks, walk through payroll and taxes and take care of all aspects of the business, rather than being just a bunch of kids selling peaches on the side of a road.”
“Jason is a very innovative guy,” says Lewis. “At first, we showed him how to set up his payroll and worked on compliance with payroll taxes and sales taxes. Later, he was trying to get a beer and wine license to sell peach wine, and we helped him through that process.”
“A lot of money runs through his business, so we helped him look at financial controls and he put better technology in place. We helped him get a state trademark for Georgia Peach World. And when he eventually bought his brother out of the company, we helped him work through the purchase.”
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As online sales began to grow, Reott turned to Lewis for help. “Jason needed a better strategy for online shipping and what to charge, so we helped him come up with options and a strategy about what he should consider when he’s shipping.”
“Our stores are an experience,” says Reott. “Tourists actively looking for southern hospitality are finding us on Trip Advisor.” And these searches are producing results. “We’ve doubled our sales the last two years and are on track to double them again this year.”
Reott sells peaches and products made with peaches – cider, bread, fritters and homemade ice cream, among others – only from Georgia. “Farmers Robert Dickey and Walter Wainwright, both UGA grads, showed me I could do anything with this business. Both are instrumental in ensuring that we have enough Georgia peaches.”
Georgia Peach World and the Eulonia Country Market sell 500 to 600 cases of Georgia peaches per week, at 25 lbs. a case, to an average 325 paying visitors every day. They have 19 full-time employees.
“The most important thing I learned from the SBDC is that there are resources available for people who want to make their business bigger, but don’t know how to,” says Reott. “I just brought my idea to David and told him the things I thought I needed. He showed me what I really needed and helped me plan how to find the easiest, fastest way to make the business happen.”
“Jason will continue to do well,” says Lewis. “He has an innate knowledge of who his customer is, how to reach them and how to stock his store with what they want to buy. And any time he has a question or wants a second set of eyes, he calls me.”