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Statesboro's Parking Lot Coffee Club provides free "bad advice"

In a town where the pace is slow but the gossip is fast, the Parking Lot Coffee Club meets daily to solve the world's problems—or at least create a few new ones. If you've ever wondered why a group of retired businessmen would gather in a former Kmart parking lot, you're in for a treat.
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Jimmie Deloach (in green shirt) welcomes visitors to the club

Earlier this week, we published a story on Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper's visit to Statesboro and his meeting with The Parking Lot Coffee Club. While readers are always pleased to see statewide leaders visiting Statesboro, the questions we've most often received involve the interest and intrigue surrounding the club itself.

The Parking Lot Coffee Club is a unique group that certainly merits a story of its own -- or at least an explanation as to why retired businessmen meet daily in a parking lot.

This informal gathering occurs in the former Kmart parking lot, where a diverse group of retirees congregates to share stories, camaraderie, and, occasionally, some dubious advice.

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Senator Billy Hickman introduces Georgia Ag Commissioner Tyler Harper at meeting. DeWayne Grice

Even though this scenario might sound like the beginning of a Lewis Grizzard article or a Jerry Clower story (if you don't know who they are, you might want to stop reading now), it is indeed not fiction but reality. The club has become a staple of the local community, blending humor with genuine social bonds.

Now, mind you, a lot of fiction transpires at these meetings. The line between fact and fiction often blurs as the members recount their tales. Nevertheless, the stories are compelling, and the friendships are strong. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an old-fashioned general store gathering where the community's pulse is felt in the banter and laughter shared among friends.

These visitors come seeking wisdom but often leave with what the members affectionately call "bad advice."

Jimmie Deloach, one of the club's members, humorously noted, "We are out here six days a week trying to solve the world's problems or maybe create world problems. We have a habit of giving out bad advice, but it is free. The number one rule of the club is not to take ourselves too seriously and just enjoy each other's company."

One member shared that they have lots of opinions, and since their wives are not interested in hearing them, this club at least gives them a chance to share their thoughts with someone else. The club serves as a sounding board for ideas, opinions, and the occasional tall tale, fostering a sense of community and belonging among its members.

Member Charles Sikes took the initiative to create shirts for the members, adding a touch of humor to their gatherings. Jimmie Deloach, seen wearing one of these shirts in the picture, proudly displayed the message: "Farm Fresh Bull, made daily, grade A quality, produced locally."

This playful slogan perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the club—lighthearted, humorous, and deeply rooted in local culture.

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Jimmie Deloach (in green shirt) speaking to the club. DeWayne Grice

Local legend has it that no local restaurants will let them meet in their restaurant regularly because it seems that everywhere they have met, including Snooky's and Vandy's at the Mall, have gone out of business. Even their current meeting is held in the parking lot of a closed business.

Jimmie DeLoach wouldn't deny or confirm the local legends, but shared that the Coffee Club has been meeting for a while and moved to the parking lot during COVID and it stuck. They meet early mornings six days a week unless it is too cold or raining, then they move to Dairy Queen.

Some of the more loyal members, in addition to Jimmie Deloach, include Richard Mallard, Charles Sikes, Jappy Stringer, Walt Strickland, Derrick Duke, Donald Nessmith, Ed Nelson and Tim Peabody. Deloach noted that the attendance comes and goes; they are meeting in a parking lot after all.

Over time, the Parking Lot Coffee Club has become more than just a meeting spot; it has evolved into a cherished tradition. The members' dedication to their daily gatherings, regardless of weather or season, speaks volumes about the bonds they've formed. The club represents a slice of Americana, where the values of friendship, community, and humor are celebrated every day.

In an era where digital interactions often replace face-to-face conversations, the Parking Lot Coffee Club stands as a testament to the enduring value of personal connections. It is a reminder that sometimes, the best advice (even if it's "bad advice") comes not from experts or professionals, but from friends who gather in a parking lot, sharing stories and laughter over a cup of coffee.