The Valdosta Daily Times
The story of Stan’s Meats and Grocery, a Valdosta staple for years, starts on a farm in Cordele, where Stan Dowdy grew up.
On the coldest day of the year, local farmers would gather to kill hogs and prepare the meat.
Stan and his brother, Warren, were in charge of keeping the fire hot.
“That’s what got me started,” said Stan.
He would go on to work for Piggly Wiggly, working for awhile in the one that used to be in Valdosta, right where Bemiss Road and North Ashley Street split off.
Eventually, he decided to go into business for himself.
“I saw it as an opportunity to better myself,” said Stan. “If you can make money for a company, you can make more for yourself.”
He started with Clover Farm Groceries in Madison, Fla., before opening Stan’s Quality Meats in Valdosta in 1989 and Stan’s Grocery and Meats in Quitman in 1995.
In Stan’s long years in the grocery business, he’s seen the children of families who regularly came in grow up and start their own families, bringing their own children in grocery shopping.
“They know us by name and we know most of them by name,” said Mike Dowdy, Stan’s son and supervisor for Stan’s Quality Meats. “You get a loyal customer base if you take care of them,” said Mike.
Throughout the years, Mike and Stan talked about moving, staying near the Oak Street location they held for years, but finding something with more room.
When Mr. B’s IGA closed on West Hill Avenue a few years back, Mike and Stan thought they might have found the place.
“I saw the building and it was just sitting dormant,” said Mike. “We’ve dreamed about this location for seven years.”
They kept an eye on it, and as their business grew, they decided to make the move.
“We reached the top of what we could do over there,” said Stan. “We were either going to have to close it down or go bigger.”
“We thought it’d be a good opportunity for our customers,” said Mike.
“We kept the good parts of the Mom and Pop and added super aggressive pricing. We still cut our meat in-house, but we can give you a better deal.”
Their move has more than doubled their space, going from 5,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet.
Though they’ve grown, they don’t want to get too large. Stan sees their size as part of their appeal.
“It doesn’t take you half a day to shop,” said Stan.
“We don’t have 30 kinds of vinegar, we just have the top five kinds of vinegar,” said Mike.
They still put an emphasis on meat and produce, priding themselves on their fresh products.
And they still put an emphasis on their employees, some of whom have been there for more than a decade.
“You feel a sense of responsibility,” said Stan. “If we fail, what are they going to do?”
The success of their move and the new location will determine the future, whether that’s expanding some of their other stores or opening a new one, but for the present, they’re focused on their new place where they opened the doors on Feb. 1.
“It’s as good as we’ve expected, if not better,” said Stan.