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Supporter Spotlight: Freshway Market
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WHAT: Freshway Market

WHERE: 1261 N. Cherokee Road, Social Circle

HOURS: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Sunday

CALL: (770) 464-0040

Freshway Market on North Cherokee Road in Social Circle has held its own in the current economic climate by simply doing what it does best: Despite facing competitors with cheaper prices, the store continues to proudly serve its community with the freshest cuts of meat and produce.

Freshway opened its Social Circle location in 1996. Owner Mike Howell, starting in the industry in 1977, also added locations in Zebulon and Byron.

After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1969, Howell worked for a few corporate companies, including Turner Communications and Coca-Cola. After several years, Howell decided he had enough.

"I just wanted to do my own thing and run a business," he said. "I was tired of the corporate practices."

Freshway purchases its fresh produce from the Atlanta State Farmers Market. Groceries and meat products are shipped from Piggly Wiggly Distributing Company in Alabama. At 150 acres, the Atlanta Market is considered one of the largest of its kind.

The chickens sold at Freshway are ice-pack chickens. Conventional supermarkets have them shipped in frozen.

Typically, meats from a supermarket are already ground and frozen. Fillers are then added and re-ground, he said.

"There’s a big difference between grinding a pre-ground product and grinding straight from whole meat," said Howell. "Essentially, you know what you are getting."

Freshway processes its meat right from the grinder, packaged, ready to be sold that day.

"Our meat is cut from whole chuck and shoulders," Howell said. "It’s days fresher than the big guys. The ground beef alone is several days fresher."

The store took a hit when the economic crisis occurred in 2008. Store manager Mike Martin noticed shoppers were beginning to shift towards cheaper products. Employee hours had to be cut, but the store managed to avoid layoffs. Today, the store boasts an average of 50 employees at the Social Circle location and 200 employees total from the other locations

"We’re going to keep on surviving and keep doing what we do best, and that’s selling fresh meat and produce," said Martin. "It’s what we do best."