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Street Talk

Less Time Off As Profit Drives ‘Big’ Retail

By Mickey Howley

This newspaper will come to you on Christmas Eve, when hopefully you’ll be home early or already off and find yourself at your home warm and cozy and relaxed. That’s the specialness of Christmas; it is the one day out of the year when folks are home with family.
This may seem as a lament, but the yearly holiday count, you know when most people are off—exception being the only ones working are the people who never take a break; police, fire, and medical —are less and less. There are just fewer nationwide holidays and fewer holidays for all.
You can shop retail on Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and Memorial Day. My guess is it is all about the money for those big box retail stores, the upper management and shareholders having the highest priority is the return on their dollar.     
And it is not that your small town Main Street retailers don’t wish to make money, but they’re more interested in making a living and that means a few holidays now and then for them and their employees. So while everyone has Christmas off, think about the people working the other former holidays if you decide to shop big box. It is all driven by your dollar.
Driving up from Jackson last Tuesday for lunch was Joy Foy from Mississippi Development Authority. Joy was here the first day we became a Main Street back on August 30, 2007 and has kept tabs on the progress ever since. And she’s become one of the Valley’s biggest cheerleaders in Jackson based on the creative economic development we’ve made here.
Riding with Joy this trip was Senator John Horhn. The Senator represents Hinds and Madison Coun-ties and is the Chairman of the Economic Development committee. He is interested in how a small town produces and markets local foodways—that’s the local milk, beef, pork, beer, grits, fruits, and vegetables that are all produced or grown in the area. Each one of those products has its own rules and regulations and taxes and the trick is how to insure public health and yet have the market free enough to encourage and promote local entrepreneurship.
Not an easy task to insure public safety and at the same time promote a pro-active business climate. There is a big range of federal, state, and local regulations, sometimes seemingly arcane and conflicting, that makes it tough on start-ups and business in general. He heard that from business owners here. The strong and repeated message that less is more when it comes to rules. Hopefully what the Senator heard and learned, by asking business owners what they think, will help him either re-do or eliminate or adjust legislation that will further grow the economy.
I think what also the Senator saw was the interesting and interactive blend of “natives” and transplanted “outsiders” with Main Street businesses. I made the comment that where you are from doesn’t matter so much here, it is a very welcoming community.
And the best thing is most business people also own their buildings and live here as well. There are a lot of “owner-operators,” to borrow that trucking term, in the Valley’s downtown and they all have significant skin in the game. Let’s keep that trend and our Main Street trucking!

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