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Let the grilling season begin
Holiday is official start to outdoor cooking
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Kimball Ellis of Ellis Meats, left, helps Archie Finch and fiance Jo Dekany pick out some ribs to grill on Memorial Day Monday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

       Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer holiday season. While many local businesses struggle to adjust to a slower sales environment brought about by the reduction in the number of Georgia Southern students and residents leaving for vacation, there are two companies that traditionally experience an uptick in business over the summer months.
    “We are very blessed in that we see have a steady business year round, but we definitely see an increase beginning with Memorial Day weekend,” said Kimball Ellis, co-owner of Ellis Meat Market in downtown Statesboro. “From ribs to chicken and low country boils, starting on the Friday before Memorial Day, we are typically very, very busy.”
    This year Ellis said their business has been impacted by both Memorial Day and graduations which fell on the same weekend.
    “It was sort of like a double whammy,” Ellis said. “We will sell 500 or so slabs of ribs, 50 or more low country boils, and tons of chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs. People just love to cook out this weekend. It truly is a celebration.”
    David Reid stopped into Ellis’s to get ingredients for a cookout celebrating his twin sons Ty and Grahm Reid’s graduation from Southeast Bulloch High School.
    “This is a special occasion, and this is how we are celebrating,” Reid said. “I can come here and get everything that I need. We are expecting 20 to 30 people.”
    Ellis said that their business is generally busier than normal over the entire course of the summer.
    “I guess people just love to grill out, and they love the relaxed pace,” he said. “You don’t have to hurry up and eat, because it is a school night. People are much more apt to get together and just relax. That is great for our business, and we are very, very grateful.”
    Another local business that benefits from Statesboro’s traditional summer business slowdown is the Statesboro Sears Hometown Store. Owner Gary Cooler said that many rental property owners use this time to clean up and refurbish their rental properties.
    “On Memorial Day weekend, we will run a very big sale like most retailers,” he said. “We sell a lot of grills, lawn mowers, yard maintenance equipment and tools, as well as patio sets. But where we really see an increase in sales is about the second week of June.”
    Cooler said once the holiday weekend passes, and people settle into a summer routine, it is back to work fixing up their property.
    “We sell a number of refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers,” Cooler said. “We get extremely busy, which is sort of unusual I guess. In a way, we have a little bit of a different sales cycle than other local retailers. We don’t miss the college students as much when they are gone, but a lot of our business is driven by student housing needs. Like everybody else, we see a tremendous impact from the students. It has steadily increased each year.”
    Cooler said he doesn’t expect the double digit growth that he experienced over the last few years prior to the recession.
    “For a number of years, our business grew at an unusual pace,” he said. “Last year, it did not, but given the economy, that wasn’t unexpected. I think we have gone back to what I would say is ‘normal’ business. You work hard for it, and hopefully it is steady. That is what I have seen over the last two years.”
    Ellis said that he and his family appreciate the support that local residents have given to their business.
    “We always try and provide whatever the customer needs,” Ellis said. “That is why we have everything that you could possibly need if you are going to cook out. From grills to charcoal to meat and spices, we carry it. We will marinade it with our special spice rub if you would like. It’s summertime, come on down and we’ll set you up for your next cookout.”