By Mary Catherine Gaston
Garrett Ganas was just 5 years old when he began his life’s work, selling his family’s pecans alongside his mom in a little building on the side of US Highway 1 outside Waycross. The family and locals called it the “pecan house,” and it did quite a booming business. Folks from all over the east coast would stop to pick up pecans on their way to the beach, ballgames or back home again. Before long, those happy customers began to call, asking the Ganases to ship the Southern specialty directly to their homes. In a move that may have marked the young, fourth-generation pecan farmer for life, Garrett and his mom happily met their customers’ demands. That simple lesson in how to succeed in business clearly stuck with him, and it’s one he and his wife Nydia have applied—with great results—in their newest business venture, Ganas Market.
Located on bustling Plant Ave. in the heart of Waycross, Ganas Market opened in 2017 as a pecan buying point and retail outlet for the couple’s pecans and pecan products. Under Nydia’s leadership, the store’s inventory has steadily grown to meet their customer’s wishes ever since. They began selling fresh, “thoughtfully sourced” produce and meats in 2018, along with Georgia-made value-added products like jams, jellies and sauces.
Although the couple began with a vision for smart, aggressive growth, they had no idea what 2020 would bring. While COVID-19 took a heavy toll on small, locally owned businesses across the country, the Ganases refused to go down without a fight, stepping up and changing their game through what has become a trademark move—doing what their customers demand.
So as the virus ramped up this past spring, Nydia and Garrett shifted into high gear, offering grocery delivery, call-in ordering and curbside pick-up. They found they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked as long-time and first-time customers waited in line for what the Ganases believe boils down to peace of mind.
“At our market, because we are part of this community and because we try to source as much as we can in-state, I think people felt safer buying from us,” Nydia says. “They had the comfort of knowing where their food was coming from.”
Shortly into the pandemic, she and Garrett began getting requests for new products. Several customers expressed interest in buying eggs from them, and so, though they had never carried eggs before, they found a way to meet the demand. The couple also found that the influx of new customers and other factors were causing them to sell out of beef products before they could restock. They rose to the challenge by processing animals from their own herd, and demand has surpassed supply once again.
“Times like this are when you innovate,” Garrett says. “Because we are small, we were able to quickly adapt to meet our customers’ needs. Our size was an advantage. It allowed us to be nimble.”
The couple, who have three young children, made a number of adaptations during the crisis, including working longer days (and nights) than either of them could have foreseen. Though the extra hours are not a change they hope to continue, many of the modifications brought on by COVID will stick around when things get back to “normal.”
And while they may be exhausted after three months of hustling nearly non-stop, the Ganases are not complaining. Instead, they feel tremendously blessed to be able to own their own businesses and to have their community place such trust in them.
“The only reason we have been able to do this and for it to be a success is that the Lord has blessed us,” Garrett says.
Once they do get a change to catch their breath, Nydia and Garrett have big plans for the future of the market. In addition to remodeling the Plant Ave. store—a former office building Garrett’s granddad helped build—they hope to expand to a second location.
The couple share more philosophical goals as well.
“We want to become very good at what we do and find better ways to serve our customers,” Garrett says, adding that his and Nydia’s long-term goal is to become more of an agritourism destination, helping promote Georgia-grown and Georgia-made products.
Want to visit Ganas Market? They are closed Sundays but open the rest of the week—Monday through Friday from 9:30 to 5:30 and Saturday from 9:30 to 2. Can’t make it all the way to Waycross? Check them out on Facebook any time.