By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Tupelo Furniture Market has long relied on a small army of volunteers to help keep it running smoothly as thousands of furniture buyers, retailers and manufacturers descend on the twice-yearly trade show.
As many as 150 volunteers work at the market, which marks its 25th anniversary this year. One particular group of volunteers has been lending a hand – or a feather duster, to be exact – for the past three years.
Kathy Bryant, Dr. Mary Pace, Jane Spain, Mary Stubbs, Mary Werner, Lisa Wise and Terri Williams – dubbed the “Dusting Ladies” – spend a solid two hours or more the Monday before each market dusting and cleaning Building VI.
“We’ve also been called the Tupelo Ambassadors since we do more than clean,” laughed Werner, the president of Tupelo Manufacturing.
And, said Bryant, the sales and marketing director for Tupelo Manufacturing, “we’ve also waited on tables.”
The ladies are a diverse bunch. Pace is an internist, Spain is the owner of WTVA, Stubbs is an owner of Busylad Rent-All, Wise is vice president of Allied Funeral Insurance and Williams is the owner of Architecture South.
“We do this because we care about the market,” Werner said. “You have to think about the economic impact it has on not just Tupelo, but all of Northeast Mississippi.”
“Volunteers are an integral part of the market, and there’s work that always needs to be done,” said Wise.
As business owners, the group says it has a vested interest in what happens at the market. The ripple effect from thousands of visitors buying furniture, eating in restaurants, staying in hotels and shopping in area stores can’t be overestimated, the ladies said.
So keeping the market – or Building VI at least – as clean and dust-free as possible is one way to give visitors a good first impression.
“If it can be dusted, we’ll get it,” said Bryant. “If there’s something that needs to be fixed, we’ll report it. We’re just doing our part to help the market succeed.”
The spring market officially opens today and ends Sunday.