From roadside stands to roadside attraction, Georgia Peach World keeps evolving
TOWNSEND, Ga. (WTOC) - Drivers traveling I-95 between South Carolina and Florida may find themselves lured off the highway for a experience that is uniquely Georgian.
Georgia Peach World started as pop-up fruit stands, blossomed into a permanent store and has now evolved into a roadside attraction for the locals and tourists alike.
“They see one of the 30 billboards (along I-95) and they can’t help but stop and say ‘I want a peach,’” Georgia Peach World founder Jason Reott said.
Reott’s been selling Georgia’s state fruit in some form for almost 20 years. It started as a job to make money for a new car, turned into a lifestyle and became a career.
“I found quickly that I had a passion for setting up these peach stands and the passion for creating the business,” Reott said.
In the early 2000s, while he was managing a handful of peach stands each summer around Macon, Reott had an epiphany. He brought a handful of students east to sell peaches around St. Simon’s Island.
“We set up on this corner and that corner and we get ran off ran off, and we finally found a place that we could set up and we’ve sold out of our peaches,” Reott said. “The light bulb went off for me; there’s nobody on I-95 doing what we and so many other people were doing on I-75.”
So he and a group of high school students came back the next summer. In the early years they crashed in a hotel and sold peaches during the day. After a few summers Reott upgraded to a house.
“Probably about 12 students that would be living in the house with us,” Reott said. “Some would be in the in the living room area sleeping, two would be in the bedroom, two in another bedroom. We would even have an RV in the backyard to where other kids can sleep.”
As business grew, the roadside stands gave way to actual stores off exit 58 in Townsend. He leased an old country store on the nortbound side and then later bought an old Huddle House on the southbound side.
Today the store features everything from peach cider and slushies to soft serve peach ice cream and other “Made in Georgia” treats.
“All of our stuff here is locally made or Georgia made products.” Reott said. “That’s been really big for us to keep that Georgia theme because a lot of the people don’t have a chance to go into Savannah or to shoot up to Macon so their chance to get a taste of Georgia might be on and off the interstate.”
While Georgia Peach World attracted weary travelers off I-95 for a quick refreshment and souvenir, Reott had a vision for something bigger. Land off Highway 57, just behind the Georgia Peach World store has been transformed into a new roadside attraction with live animals, train rides, bounce pillows, and a place to sit down and soak it all in.
Georgia Peach World Farm opened in February 2021, but not without some hiccups along the way. While the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t ideal, Reott says it
“When COVID Hit it gave us a lot of downtime to be able to put in the infrastructure around the property: the pens for the animals, the bounce pillows, building the tractor playground, building the Super Slide,” Reott said.
Since it’s opening, Georgia Peach World Farm has hosted school groups, families, special events during the holidays and continues to offer something new.
“That’s part of the blessing too is being able to have the community come out, kids come out, schools come out,” Reott’s wife Heather said. “Even seeing our own kids’ schools and friends come out and give them summer jobs. It just keeps evolving.”
The next evolution is already in the works. A garden area with flowers to pick will soon give way to a vineyard.
“This past year, we just got our state, local and federal license to be considered a farm winery,” Reott said. “So we’re going to be able to begin manufacturing wine out here on the farm.”
Georgia Peach World is located at Exit 58 of I-95 in Townsend. A second store is also open in Richmond Hill at Exit 87.
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