By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – The Barnes Crossing area off North Gloster Street is a retailing mecca, with more than 3 million square feet of commercial real estate encompassing nine major shopping centers, dozens of restaurants and more than 200 retailers and restaurants.
But, business owners insist, the area still has room to grow.
On Tuesday, many of them met to discuss the creation of the Barnes Crossing Business District.
“We’ve been talking about this for years, but we’ve been so busy building our businesses that we didn’t get around it until now,” said Jeff Snyder, the general manager at the 821,000-square-foot Mall at Barnes Crossing, the anchor of the area.
The mall, and Mitchell Scruggs, the owner of Scruggs Farm, Lawn & Garden and Home Improvement Warehouse, are the chief organizers of the group.
“We’re one of the last ones to form a district, when we really should’ve been one of the first,” Snyder said.
The city has long had the Downtown Main Street Association, a South Gloster Business Association has met intermittently over the years and last year, the Midtown District was formed.
After the April 28 tornado, businesses along the North Gloster Street stretch between McCullough Boulevard and North Green Street/Lakeshire Drive decided to create a North Gloster Business District.
Like the other districts, the newly formed Barnes Crossing Business District is being organized so that members can network and communicate with each other, as well as with other businesses in the city.
The ultimate goal, said Scruggs, is to work together to bring more businesses – and customers – to the Barnes Crossing Business District.
“We’ve got to get better organized, pool our resources, have better communication and bring more people to the area who will spend more money,” he said.
The mall is celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, and Snyder said it has been an economic driver for the city and region. Citing figures from the Community Development Foundation, Snyder said since its opening in 1990, the mall has helped generate more than $6 billion in retail sales and more than $200 million in retail sales taxes to the city.
“If we continue to do well, we’ll continue to help the city grow and help the region grow,” he said.
“This is not the mall’s business district, this is a district for everybody in the area,” he added.
The district roughly covers the area north of U.S. Highway 78 to the city limits, west to Mount Vernon Road and east to Big Oaks Golf Club. “We want to complement and work with the other businesses, too, like we already do.”
Mud Creek Festival
In another move to bring more visitors to the area, the new district will roll out the inaugural Mud Creek Festival on Father’s Day weekend.
Pat Rasberry of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau said the name presents a wide range of opportunities for organizers.
“This will be your event that’s unique and like nothing else,” she told the group.
The festival will have events going on at various sites, and Snyder said the grassy area next to the pond by the mall – now called Mud Creek Lake – would be an ideal spot for some event.
Among some of the event possibilities of the Mud Creek Festival would be a carnival, music acts, a run or bike race and some educational elements to let people know about the history of the area.
“We don’t want to be a rubber stamp of some other festival, we want to make it our own,” Snyder said.
“We’re looking at a bunch of ideas, which is why we want as many businesses as we can to get involved,” he said
Said Scruggs, “People want a family friendly place to go, and the Barnes Crossing Business District has something for everyone. … a festival is a no-brainer, and I think it will bring more people to the area, and that helps everybody.”