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Hoping for Heavenly sales
Christmas season icing on the cake for Boro ham store
121108 BIZ HEAVENLY Web 1
Heavenly Ham owner Jackie Hinson talks about the importance of the holiday season - business wise - to the success of his franchise. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
     Spiral sliced hams have become a holiday "must" for many, and one local business owner is grateful for that tradition.
      "For me, ham sales during the holidays are like icing on the cake," said Jackie Hinson, owner of Heavenly Ham in Statesboro. "Most of the year, we are a sandwich restaurant that also sells spiral sliced hams and turkeys, but this time of the year we move a lot of hams, and that is a great thing. I just had one customer order 80 hams to give as Christmas presents to his clients."
      Hinson purchased the Statesboro Heavenly Ham from Jim Mock who originally opened the store six years ago. With a thriving sandwich business already in place, Hinson said purchasing the store has been a great move for him and his family.
      "People ask me if buying this business has been a good thing," Hinson said. "I tell them that it is the most right thing that I have ever done."
      Hinson did not come from a restaurant background; in fact he was in the mobile tool sales business for over 30 years.
      "I worked for Matco as well as working for myself representing Matco," he said. "I sold my tool business and retired. My wife Carole and I would eat in here almost every day. Last February, I told Jim (Mock) to let me know if he might be interested in selling the business one day. One thing lead to another, and I bought the business this past July."
      Hinson said he saw how many people would come in each day for lunch, and they were happy and glad to be there.
      "It just seemed like a great and simple business, and it has been," he said.
      Customers range from college students to professionals, and many come to the restaurant several times a week.
      Rori Redding, owner of the Sugar Plum Fairy, said that she loves Heavenly Ham. "The people in there are so nice," Redding said. "You can get a boxed lunch, and it is so clean, and the food is really good. It is like a staple. I doesn't change, and it is always good and healthy."
      Megan Hendrix works for Redding and is also a very big fan of the restaurant. "There are times in the store when we are very busy, and need something quick to eat," she said. "Like Rori said, it is fast, friendly, and good. We love it."
      Tracy Waters owns the shopping center on Brannen Street where Heavenly Ham is located. He said he is grateful that a change in ownership has not affected the restaurant.
      "Heavenly Ham has been a staple in our shopping center," Waters said. "They do a wonderful business, and sell a very good product. You can see that Jackie is growing the business and enjoying himself at the same time."
      Behind Hinson's disarming smile and sincere charm is a shrewd businessman with over three decades of sales experience.
      "The business that I was in involved extending a lot of credit to people," Hinson said. "The way the economy was headed, I could see that being in a credit dependent business was going to be very tough. There is no credit in this business. It is cash up front, and I am much more comfortable with that."
Hinson said there was a learning curve when he bought the business six months ago.
      "It's like anything else, in that no matter how you think things are going to be, you will get a curve ball or two, but overall, it has been fairly smooth," he said.
      Hinson said although he and his wife loved eating at Heavenly Ham, he had no idea how much others did.
      "People love this restaurant, and the response has been overwhelming," he said. "People genuinely want us to do well, and to continue to serve them the sandwiches they love. Almost everybody that comes in here has a smile on their face. It makes it very easy to come to work everyday."
      According to Hinson, the restaurant's most popular sandwich is the chicken salad. "Who would have thought that?" he said.