By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Cellular South store that opened this week on West Main Street will be getting company soon.
Cellular South anchors the mini retail center, flanked by two empty spots for now.
But by February or March, Christy’s Hamburgers is expected to open in the space to the east of Cellular South.
A Direct General insurance office will be opening in the other space in early January.
Bridgforth Rutledge, a Jackson real estate developer, business attorney and restaurateur, bought the former Hollywood Video store earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.
“I bought the building from an outside developer that Hollywood Video was leasing from,” he said. “When Hollywood filed for bankruptcy, he put it up for sale.”
Hollywood Video’s parent, Movie Gallery, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2009, just three months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Tupelo Hollywood Video store closed in December of last year. The last of the company’s 2,700 stores closed by July 31 of this year.
After buying the building, Rutledge gutted it, began renovation work and divided the former video store into three spaces.
Rutledge, who owns several Back Yard Burgers across the state, said developing the site is his first business foray into Northeast Mississippi.
“I see some pent-up demand in Tupelo,” he said, adding that opportunities await for those entrepreneurs who are on the front end of any economic recovery.
Rutledge said he was pleasantly surprised to see his newly renovated building be filled so quickly.
“That doesn’t happen very often, but I’m not complaining,” he said.
Not long after Cellular South began work on its store, Christy’s Hamburgers said it was going to be is neighbor.
Christy’s co-owner Todd Burkis was convinced that the West Main location was ideal, said Nate Prisock, the manager of Christy’s in Oxford.
“We looked at the whole area, and this (site) really made a lot of sense,” Prisock said. “It’s right there in front of Walmart and there’s a lot of traffic.”
Cellular South liked the spot, too. Sherry Stegall, the company’s vice president of sales and customer operations, said it had been looking more than a year for a “prominent location on Main Street with high visibility.”
Prisock said the Tupelo store will be about the same size as the Oxford location, which opened in July.
The original Christy’s is in Starkville and opened in the 1980s. Burkis bought the restaurant in 1997 and moved it to a larger location in 2002. He opened a second location in Columbus earlier this year. Burkis’ brother, Ryan, opened a third location in Cottleville, Mo.
“We’ll probably start off with hiring about 10 people,” he said.
The Cellular South store employs four workers.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.