Let freedom – and registers – ring

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The All-American City will celebrate independence this weekend in the true Southern way – with food.
On Thursday, shoppers at Todd’s Big Star were busy stocking up on meat, buns, chips, drinks and other barbecue items needed for their shindigs.
According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, 62.6 percent, or 144 million Americans, are hosting or attending a cookout, barbecue or picnic on Saturday. In spite of the recession, the number is slightly up from last year.
Todd’s Big Star Manager Joey Cole said business was looking “pretty good” as of Thursday. He’s expecting today to be the big shopping day with the bulk of the crowd hitting after 4 p.m.
Cole ranks July 3 as one of the store’s busiest days of the year.
“It’s right up there with the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve,” he said.
He said pork spare ribs have been the most popular meat item at the store so far for the holiday, followed by Boston butts and hamburgers.
Other popular items include baby back ribs, hot dogs and chicken.
“Anything for grilling people love,” store owner Bob Knight said.
Holiday sales also are ringing up retail registers, with Keep It Casual owner Meredith Tollison reporting a busy week as customers buy porch and deck accessories to spruce up what they already have.
“We have sold umbrellas and cushions like nobody’s business,” she said.
The colors have been more in line with the customers’ previous schemes, instead of red, white and blue for the holiday.
Yet, some people will go with a patriotic theme for Saturday. The NRF’s survey found 14 percent of consumers plan to buy patriotic merchandise. The survey found 121 million Americans already own an American flag, 89 million have patriotic apparel, 58 million own decorations and 25 million have bumper stickers or car decals.
Catering sales also are holding their own for the weekend. Felicia Doss at Lamar’s Bar-B-Que & Catering in Baldwyn said orders have been steadily streaming in for family get-togethers and reunions. An average catering order for Saturday, she said, has been barbecue, beans, potato salad and cole slaw for 50 to 70 people.
Orders have been on par with last year.
“Business is going real well,” Doss said of the 10-year-old catering venture. “The economy is bad. Everybody’s trying to make it. But we have customers that we’ve been having for a long time and new customers also.”
Todd’s also sells ready-to-eat ribs, but Knight said for the Fourth of July holiday, the raw meat has been the better seller.
“People like to cook out,” Knight said. “They like to stand around the grill and have a good time.”

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.