HOMEGROWN: Gray’s Department Store

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal

Owner: Jones family
Est.: Not clear, but before 1950
Employees: Three
Address: 206 W. Market St., downtown Booneville
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Phone: (662) 728-5741
Email: graystore@bellsouth.net
Advice: ‘Business is easy. You can take $1,000 and an idea and have a business. The tough part is making a profit.’

Gray’s Department Store

Gray’s Department Store is the oldest store still in business in Booneville, according to owner Jimmy Jones. He doesn’t know exactly when the store opened, but he thinks it was before the 1950s. The story goes that Claude Gray was an employee at Reed’s Department Store in downtown Tupelo and left to open a store in Booneville. The store changed hands over the years until Jimmy Jones bought it about 33 years ago.
When Jones started, it was a typical department store with clothes for men, women and children. The merchandise and the business model has morphed over the years. Now it offers wigs, hair care products, tux rentals, home decor items and some clothes.
Jones also buys gold and silver. Plus, he sells prepaid cell phones and offers money services, such as check cashing. And, he has bill-paying services so customers can pay their phone, DirecTV and MasterCard bills in the store.
“In a little town, you’ve got to do more points of interest than in a major town,” Jones said.
Carlie Kollath Wells