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Busy time of year for area grocers
Turkey WEB 1
Honey Baked Ham employee Tonya Crawford, right, helps customer Jamie Weyenberg with a Thanksgiving order. Area grocers are busy preparing meals for the Thanksgiving holiday. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Customers are already gobbling up Thanksgiving turkeys, hams and other fixings in preparation of the nation’s biggest food holiday.

Brenda Reid, spokeswoman for area Publix stores, said the holiday kicks off the biggest season of the year for food retailers.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas are very big food occasions for families throughout the country,” she said. “There’s so much meal-sharing, parties and other events that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is quite a big time for grocers.”

Doug Griffith, manager of the Honey Baked Ham Store on Buford Dam Road, agreed.

“We’ve added 40 to 50 new people as seasonal help,” he said.

Griffith said across the nation, the company sells more than 7 million pounds of ham throughout each holiday season.

While it may not reach that mark, Ferguson’s Meat Market on Hwy. 369 does a brisk business during the holiday season as well.

Owner John Wills said Thanksgiving is one of the store’s busiest times of year.

The north Forsyth business specializes in freshly cut meats, but also offers full carry-out meals and catering.

“We’re starting to get a lot of customers for our free-range turkeys and a lot of catering orders,” Wills said.

Reid said turkey is probably the biggest selling item at Publix this time of year.

“Our best deal right now is turkeys for 59 cents a pound. Customers can take advantage of that this week and next,” she said, noting Publix stores will be closed on Thursday, but open normal hours Wednesday.

Lynn Barnett, owner of Leonard’s Farmers Market on Atlanta Hwy., agreed that specialty sales pick up this time of year.

Barnett said the market doesn’t typically carry turkeys, but brings in free-range turkeys from Maine for the holidays.

“People got to have their turkeys,” he said.

While turkey and ham are usually the proteins of choice for Thanksgiving tables, Wills said his customers often have varied traditions.

“A lot of people don’t like turkey,” he said. “But everybody just wants something special for their Thanksgiving meal, so we sell a lot of prime rib roasts and beef tenderloins.

“We actually sell a lot of [grills] at this time of year too. A lot of people like to grill out.”

Wills said business will be especially busy next week as the store will offer prepared meals of “cooked turkey, dressing and all the fixings.”

“We’ve been here for 20 years now, so we have a lot of repeat customers,” he said. “We try to ramp up what we have each year.”

Honey Baked also offers a variety of frozen side items including green beans casserole, dressing, and mashed potatoes, as well as several cakes and pies to go along with that Thanksgiving turkey and ham.

“This is one-stop shopping,” Griffith said. “We’ve got everything they need from sweet potato soufflé to holiday candy, rum cakes, pies. And this year we even have bacon for their breakfast.”

For those looking to prepare their side items from scratch, Leonard’s offers a wide range of fresh vegetables.

“Pole beans are a big seller at Thanksgiving,” Barnett said, adding to that collard greens, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

With extended hours planned, Griffith said Honey Baked will see a spike Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Those days are always the busiest, but we’re excited. We think this will be the best holiday season ever.”