Mike Rogers, left, stands with his mother Diane Rogers and father Ricky Rogers at their new Mike’s Country Store location on U.S. 19 South in Putney. The new location has brought 24 jobs to the area.
PUTNEY, Ga. -- You'll have to forgive Mike Rogers if he looks a little bleary-eyed these days.
The owner of now two Mike's Country Store locations -- the 18-years-running original on Philema Road and the newly opened location off U.S. 19 in Putney -- a general construction firm and 73 rental properties is, to say the least, stretched a little thin.
Asked how he finds time to rest, Rogers quipped, "I sleep, but I sleep fast."
Rogers became Putney's man of the hour last week when he opened the new Mike's, offering residents of the somewhat isolated community many of the goods they've typically driven into Albany to pick up.
"Before he opened this store, the people out here had to make the 20-mile round-trip into Albany to get a tomato, a head of lettuce, a head of cabbage or a piece of meat to cook," Dougherty County Commissioner Jack Stone said Wednesday as he visited the new Mike's. "The people of Putney are very excited to have this here, and the 20-something new jobs he's created are a big plus for the county."
Rogers grew up near his new Mike's location, on Radium Springs Road in Southeast Dougherty County. He started wrapping meat for his butcher dad, Rick Rogers, when he was 8 years old, and after graduating high school it didn't take the younger Rogers long to figure out one of the harsh realities of the business world.
"When I graduated, I started working in the meat department at a Harvey's supermarket in Albany," Rogers said. "After working there 90 to 100 hours a week for three years, I thought, 'Hell, I can do this for myself.'"
So Rogers and his mother, Diane, bought the land, built and opened the original Mike's at 1629 Philema. The timing was perfect and the store a godsend to the growing number of families that relocated in the southeastern portion of Lee County during an extensive decadelong growth spurt that saw the county become one of the fastest growing in the nation.
Rogers did his homework and saw a similar situation in the Putney area.
"We had a little grocery store out this way, but once it shut down there was nowhere for the people here to shop without making a trip into Albany," Stone said. "And there are a lot of households located within five miles of this store."
The Mike's in Putney offers a few features Lee County shoppers don't get in the original store. In the new facility's 4,000 additional square feet, there is a full-service meat case with Mike's-made products like sausage, bacon, hot dogs and bologna; a full-service deli that serves hot lunches; and a monster smoker on which staff prepare ribs, butts, hams and turkeys.
A self-contained room in which patrons can sit down and watch a big-screen television while they eat their meals will be added soon.
And while there are differences in the two Mike's stores, one element is a constant: the preparation done by Rogers' "right-hand man," Todd Wigham.
"He does our sausage and other meat products; the key being that he brings a consistency that our products are known for," Rogers said of Wigham. "Connecting with him has been a blessing for both of us."
The new Mike's, which is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, will hold a grand opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a number of specials over the three-day period. But Rogers said he's not through expanding yet.
"I've already started planning a new Mike's at the corner of Gillionville and Westover in Albany, and I have purchased the land across from Albany State's football stadium (on U.S.) 82 for a Cost-Plus store," he said. "We're pretty much ready with both locations; it's just a matter of making a decision on the best time to move forward.
"We'll build these new locations one at a time as soon as we can."
Looks like Rogers is going to have to learn to sleep even faster.