The No. 1 seller of grits on Amazon.com right now hails from none other than Galivants Ferry.
Beginning with David Dorman’s grandfather James Graham, the Dorman family has made grits and cornmeal on the same land off Highway 1115 in Galivants Ferry since 1934. In 1994, David Dorman became the third generation owner of the business, and he has since been followed by his sons, Devin and Andrew. Graham’s former home on their property has been renovated and serves as the office for the business.
Palmetto Farms produces stone-ground grits and cornmeal, as well as a number of other products including cornmeal pancake mixes, packages to make flavored cheese grits, hushpuppies, skillet cornbread and more. Their products are free of any flour and are certified gluten-free.
“There’s no wheat in our facility and there is no cross-contamination,” David Dorman said.
“These grits are true southern style grind, cook up deliciously and are priced so reasonably. I had used Palmetto Farms products before when we lived in North Carolina and would purchase when traveling through South Carolina. Now thanks to Amazon, we can get our Southern fix just fine now,” said user “29GRITS” on a recent Amazon.com review.
“Delicious!”, “Fantastic!” and “Great quality!” are just some of the other reviews left by grits enthusiasts all over the country who purchased Palmetto Farms grits via Amazon.
Andrew Dornan, who handles their online sales while his brother Devin handles the wholesale and distribution sectors, said they’ve been selling online with Amazon for seven years, and the largest sales thus far had been in 2013, to the tune of about $40,000. They have held the number one spot now for three years, but this year he says they are expecting Amazon sales to be upwards of $400,000.
“It’s gone kind of cuckoo crazy,” David Dorman said. “There’s really been no marketing – just word of mouth sort of thing.”
While they sell both white and yellow grits, the white is more popular nationally. Locally, yellow is number one.
David Dorman said the Palmetto Farms’ product has just “walked away” from the competition in their level, and he clarifies that “Quaker Instant Oats is not our competitor.”
“The thing about Amazon, it offers free shipping with prime shipping,” Andrew Dorman said. “They can reach millions of people that wouldn’t normally see your website.”
The business began as a small store over near the Exxon in Galivants Ferry.
“We ground the grits right there, and also had candy, jams and jellies,” David Dorman said.
After the housing bubble burst, business at the 501 storefront plummeted, and a consultant told David he should consider a wholesale business.
“I closed the store and moved equipment back to the farm,” he said. “Basically on that day it was just me and my mill, and my scissors and screen printing frame and my scoop doing every single step of it. Had to buy corn, unload, grind, etc, then hit the road trying to sell it.”
Andrew Dorman said there are still local folks who knew his grandfather who come by in person to pick up their products. Meanwhile, a UPS truck comes by and loads up a pallet of boxes to head out to Amazon’s facilities.
The cloth bags that house the product are also still made at their facility, screen printed and run by hand through a special, efficient sewing machine.
Andrew and Devin say the business expanded to grocery stores including Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Publix and possibly Harris Teeter in the near future. They are in some Piggly Wiggly stores, Tomlinsons and Boulineaus as well. Papa’s General Store in Conway carries them, too.
“We’re in a lot of different chains in the tri-state area, and we sell all over the country,” Andrew Dorman said
Local restaurants Rivertown Bistro, Bonfire and Captain Dave’s Dockside in Murrells Inlet use Palmetto Farms products. They also are in use at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC.
With the holiday season approaching, the Dormans will be putting out a three-pack gift special along with some new items.
“We’re busy all the time, but it goes into insane mode by the end of October through Christmas,” David Dorman said. “A lot of people buy them not just to eat them, but to give them as presents.”
Palmetto Farms is looking forward to seeing how long they can keep their number one spot.
“We’re continuing to grow every year,” Andrew Dorman said.