Iuka welcomes vitality of new businesses

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

IUKA – The Iuka Development and Economic Association hosted several new retail businesses, as well as some that have changed ownership, at a welcome reception Tuesday.
Several have located in downtown Iuka, said IDEA spokesman Charles Emmons, leaving only one space unoccupied.
“The only place we don’t have open downtown is Café Memories,” he said.
Among the businesses that have opened their doors since January 2011 are: Beauty and Beyond, Constitution Drive; Country Boy Farms, Battleground Drive; Iuka Monument Co., Quitman Street (new ownership); M&W Sales, Battleground Drive; Harris and Vuncannon Upholstery, Curtis Drive; Front Street Snack Bar; Once Treasured, Battleground Drive; Madison Studio, Front Street; The Place @ Front and Main; Pray Pottery, South Fulton Street; A-Z for Less, Constitution Drive; Pennywinkle Station, South Fulton Street; Paper Chase, South Fulton Street (new name and ownership); and Animal House and Gifts, Front Street.
“Our IDEA group is working on things to bring people back into downtown,” Emmons said.
On April 14, they will repeat last year’s popular Prom in the Park, which includes refreshments, carriage rides around downtown, photos in the carriage as well as a photographer set up to take other posed pictures before the Tishomingo County High School prom.
“Pennywinkle Station would open to serve by reservation that night if people wanted to eat here,” Emmons said.
An additional benefit of bringing more people downtown is the willingness of city officials to work on improvements and repairs.
“We want to show free movies outside on the side of a building one Saturday a month,” he said. “We’d sell refreshments as a fundraiser for IDEA, but the movie would be free like our Music in the Park series.”
Music in the Park kicks off April 21, with a program of gospel performers “to celebrate the Easter season,” said event organizer Teresa McGaughy. A monthly concert will be held through October on the third Saturday, noon-4 p.m., in Iuka Mineral Springs Park.
The long-standing farmers market held at Jay Bird Park downtown also is getting a boost from the Tishomingo County Extension Office to help attract more vendors with a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
The group also will repeat the Back to School Celebration in August and the Catfish Cookoff in October, which was a highly successful event. In addition to judging hushpuppies, coleslaw and catfish, they’re thinking about adding sweet tea.
“We’re glad the new businesses are here,” Emmons said. “I think the atmosphere we created helped bring more businesses downtown. We talked it up getting folks here and hopefully it helped get them here. We’d welcome a few more.”
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com