|Posted by Jack Hall on December 18, 2006 at 5:15 PM|
Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN)
Published: December 18, 2006
By: Sherri Drake / [email protected]
For three months every year , the Hall family's Covington pecan shop bustles with customers buyin', crackin', shellin' and sellin' the seasonal treat.
The six weeks leading up to Christmas are the busiest, with cars packed in front of the shop on U.S. 51 North and pecan-lovers hauling in hundreds of pounds of nuts every day.
"How-do. How-do," Mary Hall, wife of owner Jack Hall, greeted customers recently.
The shop's a popular social spot during pecan season, with many hanging out to talk about politics and the weather as they nibble on pecans and listen to machines cracking shells. The walls are covered in newspaper clippings, political ads and customers' signatures.
"It's supposed to be cold tomorrow, Jackie. Windy and cold," said 67-year-old Knox Miles, as he sat in a chair on a recent day at the shop. Miles helps dump the 1,000 or so pounds of hulls that pile up in a trash container every day.
Jack Hall stops to talk in between weighing pecans, working out prices and answering his constantly ringing cell phone.
"I like to be around a lot of folks," he said. "I like to be in the middle of stuff."
The Tipton County builder continues to open the shop every November to February to carry on a family tradition.
The Halls have been cracking pecans about 40 years, starting the service in Hall's Grocery, which opened in 1917 and closed in 1995. In 1997, they opened Jack Hall's Pecans on U.S. 51.
"This is not about money out here," he said. "This is about family legacy. Keeping it up."
For many years, Hall ran the shop with his mother, Jean Talley Hall. The 73-year-old was killed by an intruder in her Covington home in 2003.
Jack and Mary Hall and teen daughters Mary Jean and Camille - who've been helping since they were little girls - keep the shop going.
And they get much help from Daryl Griggs, 32, who's been working for the Halls since he started sweeping the floors of the grocery when he was 7 years old. "He's the Man," Hall said.
Hall said he runs the shop just as his mother did. "If someone ordered a pound, she gave them a pound and a quarter. Always give more. Good business."
In a good season, Hall said, 50,000 to 100,000 pounds of pecans could move through the shop.
They bought the first of two pecan crackers in 1966, two more in 1976 and two more this year. He's ordered six more. The machines can crack about 100 pecans a minute.
The sheller, which Hall bought four years ago, gets about 85 percent of the shell off the pecans.
Hall charges 35 cents to crack and shell a pound of pecans. Forty years ago, it cost about five cents to crack a pound.
Nancy Barron and her granddaughter, Kristiona Dean, 2, brought by 112 pounds to crack and shell. They planned to give the pecans as Christmas gifts.
"There's no way we could've cracked them and shelled them by Christmas, by hand," Barron said, as she waited at the shop.
Hall plans to build a shop in front of the new Covington Wal-Mart. It would have windows in front of the machines, so passersby could watch.
This season, he plans to expand the current location. He said many people are asking him to grow the business.
"I'm going to be in the pecan business as long as I'm living."
- Sherri Drake: 529-2510
Jack Hall's Pecans
Address: 1437 U.S. 51 North, Covington.
Business: Shelling, cracking, selling and buying pecans.
Top people: Jack Hall, owner.
Started: About 1966; moved to U.S. 51. location in 1997.
Employees: Six (from November to February).
Phone: 476-9868 (pecan shop);
Photos by Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
Daryl Griggs, 32, checks on some pecans as they are being cracked at Jack Hall's Pecans in Covington. Griggs has worked with the Hall family for more than 20 years. "He's the Man," said owner Jack Hall.
Owner Jack Hall said that in a good season, 50,000 to 100,000 pounds of pecans could move through his shop. His machines can crack about 100 pecans a minute.
agriculture business tipton co
Copyright (c) 2006 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
Note: This article was pulled from The Commercial Appeal archives at www.commercialappeal.com.