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Food business brisk at Thanksgiving
Merchants ready to assist with sides, turkey
Katie Wyke loads a tray with homemade pumpkin pies at Ferguson’s Meat Market in north Forsyth. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Just as families are grateful to be together on Thanksgiving, many merchants are thankful for the uptick in business the week brings.

Doug Griffith, manager of the Cumming Honey Baked Ham Store on Buford Highway near Market Place Boulevard, said the days leading up to Thanksgiving are some of the best.

“We look forward to this week every year,” he said. “We’re open extended hours to let people come and shop.”

Now through the end of the year, the shop will welcome a large percentage of its customers for the year.

“Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the three biggest holidays of the year for us,” Griffith said.

“We hire a good number of people to help us produce the hams because they’re all handmade here. We bring in a lot of seasonal employees, a lot of people who want to pick up a little extra money for Christmastime.”

The same holds true for John Will, owner of Ferguson’s Meat Market in the Coal Mountain community of north Forsyth. He said November and December are two of his biggest months of the year.

“Thanksgiving isn’t quite as busy for us as Christmas, but we do quite a bit of business in November,” Will said. “We do a lot of catering business during those two months. We do a lot of parties for people and a lot of companies do catering for their employees.”

Griffith said Honey Baked Ham provides, of course, ham for the Thanksgiving table, but there’s also the bird that so many families treasure.

“You have to have a turkey at Thanksgiving, so we do sell a lot of both,” he said, noting there’s even a special Thanksgiving deal. “If they buy a ham, they get $3 off the turkey, so you can enjoy both.”

There are also plenty of classic side items to finish off the holiday table.

“We have all the favorites like the green bean casserole, the broccoli and rice casserole, the cornbread dressing … all the things you’d expect on the table at Thanksgiving,” Griffith said.

Up the road at Ferguson’s, customers can also get some holiday help with their side items.

Will said the shop offers several handmade items such as dressing and sweet potato casserole that customers can take home and bake in their own ovens, as well as a range of turkeys, hams and other main-dish options.

“Some people come in for the roast beef or the racks of ribs for Thanksgiving,” Will said. “Different people have different traditions.”

One tradition that many of Will’s customers have adopted is taking home one of the shop’s smoked turkeys.

“We do quite a few of these,” Will said Monday as he opened one of the shop’s large multi-level smokers. Turkeys lined the shelves, coming to a golden brown.

“We’ve made a nice little niche with the smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving.”

Ferguson’s also sells plenty of handmade pies and other baked goods for Thanksgiving.

At Honey Baked Ham, Griffith said dessert items are big sellers, too.

“People like to get those pies and cakes while they’re here too,” he said. “This year we have a new sweet potato crunch pie that’s really good.”

If anyone is running a little behind on planning for their holiday gathering, both Honey Baked Ham and Ferguson’s Meat Market can help.

“We’ll be open our normal hours until 7 o’clock [tonight], so people can get those last-minute items,” Ferguson said.

Added Griffith: “We want everybody to come out. We have extended hours until 8 p.m. [tonight] so they can come as late as they like … we’ll be glad to take you at the last minute so everybody can get their Thanksgiving ham or turkey.”