By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – At 65, Jim Troxler could retire. But he’s not quite ready.
The next few weeks will determine what his next steps are, as he shuts down the business he’s owned and nurtured for nearly half his life.
Starting today, Troxler begins liquidating everything inside The Village Green, hoping to get the cash necessary to pay off debt and maybe, just maybe, open a smaller business elsewhere.
“I don’t want to stop working, but we’ve struggled the last five years trying to keep it afloat,” he said. “We finally came to the point where we knew we just weren’t going to make it.”
The store, located at 1210 W. Main St., is known for its gifts, collectibles, books and Christmas merchandise. It moved to its current location in 1998 from a smaller spot in the West Main Shopping Center.
Troxler said the move was a good idea at the time, with business growing.
But the Sept. 11 attacks marked the start of a downward spiral, made worse by the Great Recession.
“I probably should have sold it three or four years ago, but I own the building,” he said.
Massive overhead, combined with falling sales, have put a crimp in Troxler’s cash flow.
“I’m not behind on any payments and I’m not late on anything,” he said. “But if I don’t get out soon, that can change.”
If the overhead on his 15,000-square-foot building were half, or even a third, of what it is, Troxler said he likely would have stayed open.
Another factor in his decision to close is the impact of Internet sales. Some customers will find an item and find it cheaper online, going to sites like Amazon.com.
“It’s not just me, but it’s also the big stores like Best Buy,” he said. “Customers’ buying habits have changed.”
Troxler also said having to “run” from large discount stores was a fruitless battle.
“It seems every time you find a niche or some unique product, it’s not long before the discount stores have caught on . … We can’t compete with them on price,” he said.
Superior customer service and unique items only go so far with consumers focused on price more than ever.
“I wish I could get more people to understand how important it is to shop with a locally owned, locally operated business,” he said. “Those dollars stay here, not to some corporate office out of state. And the fewer independent retailers there are, the fewer choices shoppers will have. That’s not good for anybody.”
Troxler also is selling store fixtures in addition to the merchandise to take care of his business debt. After the business closes for good, he said he may reopen another store with a different name and different product mix.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do next, but I appreciate all our customers through the years and their loyalty,” he said.