People ask me all the time if I think the local economy is turning around.
I wish I had a good answer for them, but I don’t because it’s not a clear-cut situation, in my opinion.
During the past months, I’ve covered my share of closings of restaurants, retailers, factories and other various businesses. We’ve seen the region’s unemployment rate skyrocket to 13.4 percent, compared with 7.2 percent in 2007.
I have friends who have been laid off and other friends who have been unable to find jobs. I’ve heard my teacher friends talk about budget cuts and the lack of supplies for students.
But despite all of that, I’ve noticed a flurry of new businesses open during the past month.
• Now open in downtown Tupelo: Caron Gallery, Luxe Boutique, Presley’s Flowers and Yellow Lovebirds.
• Voe’s Boutique is slated to open in downtown Tupelo.
• Nautical Whimsey Italian Bistro and Bar is slated to open downtown.
• Edible Arrangements is open in the shopping center next to the West Main Street Walmart.
• Zapata restaurant is open on West Main by Little Caesars Pizza.
• Mist Asian Restaurant amp& Bar is open in the Crye-Leike Shopping Center.
• Signage is up for Oscar’s Wine amp& Spirits and The Lost Pizza Co. in the same shopping center.
• The Home Shelf Market, a specialty meat, fish and cheese, store is slated to open in October next to Oscar’s.
• A Mexican restaurant is slated to open in the shopping center anchored by Kohl’s.
• Peggy’s Place is open in the former Guthrie’s location on South Gloster.
• Fairfield Inn is slated to open on Tom Watson Drive near Scruggs.
• A new McDonald’s location is open on South Gloster.
• Bouffant Salon amp& Spa is open in the shopping center with Hancock Fabrics.
Just last week, I was visiting several of the new stores for a feature on our blog, Biz Buzz, called a “drive-by” or a “walk-through” where we take pictures of a business and get details about it. The photos and info are then posted on our blog (NEMS360.com/pages /bizbuzz).
When I spoke with the owners, I was impressed. They had the classic mix of excitement and frenziedness that comes with opening their own business.
But for the most part, the new stores were extensions of what they’d been doing already. The owners of the Edible Arrangements franchise and Presley’s Flowers had been running similar businesses out of their homes.
The owner of Yellow Lovebirds had been operating a web business under the same name, and the owner of Luxe Boutique previously owned a shop in Amory.
The majority of the owners of the new restaurants had been in the industry before.
They knew the tough business climate they were getting into, and they still decided to do it. And so far, they say business has been good.
When I hear their stories, it helps me balance all the bad business news. But it also makes the answer to “how’s the local economy?” a little more complicated.
Contact business reporter Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or email@example.com.
CARLIE KOLLATH / NEMS Daily Journal