Downtown Amory: City survives recession with faith, small businesses

By Alice Ortiz/Monroe Journal

AMORY – Downtown Amory has definitely survived the hump of the recession.
In the past year, several new small businesses have opened on Main Street. The entrepreneurs have shown faith in the community and local economy by opening new businesses downtown. This surge of business has increased an increase of traffic, bringing out-of-towners to Amory to shop and eat.
Amory Main Street is unique in a variety of ways. It is home to Frisco Park, which has Frisco Engine 1529, one of eight Frisco 1529 locomotives in existence today. The St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad donated the engine to the city in 1953 to commemorate the dedication of the Southern Division headquarters building. This engine carried President Franklin Roosevelt through Amory in 1934. Roosevelt was the only sitting president to visit the city.
Amory’s City Hall was the original Frisco Division Headquarters. It served as the Southern Division Headquarters until 1968 when it was sold to the city.
Among other points of interest downtown are the Handprints of Stars, which feature handprints and autographs of many of the performers from Whoopi Goldberg to Tom Arnold that appeared at the biannual “Stars Over Mississippi” concert series benefiting the Mary Nell Kirkpatrick Haskell Scholarship Foundation.
These points of interest and others are listed in a Walking Tour brochure of downtown Amory.
Something seems to always be happening that draws locals and out-of-towners to the downtown area, including a community-wide Easter egg hunt held the Saturday before Easter in Frisco Park and the Amory Railroad Festival, held Thursday through Sunday in early April. The Railroad Festival is a family-friendly event featuring entertainment, food, arts and crafts, carnival rides, a 5k run and a car show.
Other special downtown events throughout the year include the Mississippi Main Street Award-winning Amory Homecoming parade and pep rally, which is held the Thursday before Amory High School’s homecoming in Frisco Park; the Annual Chili Cook-off and Fall Fest, held on a Saturday in mid-October in Frisco Park, where the best chili cooks compete for bragging rights; the Holiday Open House, which is held the second weekend in November; Christmas Parade, held the first Monday in December down Main Street; and Christmas Open House, which is held the second weekend in December.
Judy Baxter, an Amory Main Street board member and also business owner of a gift shop and plant nursery in downtown Amory since the mid-1990s, said downtown Amory has become very diversified with gift, antique and clothing stores.
There are seven restaurants in downtown Amory. One of the restaurants, Dairy Kream, has been owned by Emogene Knight and family for 33 years.
Amory Tire and Rubber Company is one of the oldest running businesses on Amory’s Main Street behind the famous Bill’s Hamburgers.
Amory Tire and Rubber Company was originally opened as an appliance and tire business by Boyd and Dick Jones. Bill Jones bought the tire business from his dad and uncle in 1948, and his son Barry, who currently owns the business, has worked there full time since he graduated from college in 1980.
alice.ortiz@journalinc.com