Who: Tucker Pecan Company
What: Southern Pecans
Where: Montgomery, Alabama
Tucker Pecan Company scouts out the best Southeastern pecans to buy, and then shells them and sells them plain. But it also roasts and salts them, smothers them in chocolate, glazes them with honey, uses them to make crunchy coatings for candies, bakes them up in pies, and more.
While the downtown area of the Camellia State’s capital has undergone revitalization in recent years, drawing new business and new people to the heart of this historic city, Tucker Pecan Company has been in its spot on one edge of downtown for decades.
Staying the Course
So have most of its neighbors — the “radio hospital” (an electronic repair shop) and the home-cooking haven, Farmer’s Market Café. They’re all old-school businesses, doing many things pretty much like they did when they first opened. Tucker Pecan still finds the best pecans and then shells them in much the same way it has since it started in 1952. And while the bulk of its pecans come from Alabama and Georgia groves and orchards, the company buys “backyard” pecans too, something most shelling companies gave up doing a long time ago.
According to David Little, the company's president: “Folks with pecan trees on their property (or just in their yard) will bring bags of pecans in, and we’ll weigh them to see what they’ve got, and then buy them. A few years ago, we purchased half-a-million pounds of pecans this way. It’s not really that profitable for us, but we do it because it is a part of our history in this community, and people still come. They’ll line up around the corner. It’s a service we have always provided, so we’ll keep doing it.”
And for those who want to eat the pecans their trees produce, but don’t want to spend the time getting them open, Tucker Pecan will do the work for them. “For 25 cents a pound, we’ll crack them, shell them, and give them back to you if you want,” says Little.
Making a Difference
Tucker Pecan is committed to its community, but it’s also committed to giving back and doing so beyond the boundaries of Montgomery with its fundraising sales. “Lots of civic organizations and youth groups or school bands will sell our pecans and our candies as a way to raise money for projects,” says Little. “The key is they don’t have to buy the items from us first. They sell, and then we fill the orders, so there is no risk. We do it for groups from as far away as Texas.”