Across the country in communities large and small, small businesses have been reaping the benefits of Small Business Month during the month of November. Throughout Wiggins and Stone County businesses have been offering special deals for both the newly developed Shop Second Saturday and taking time to participate in the Small Business Saturday event that takes place on the last Saturday of November every year.
There are more than 1,600 communities nationwide that are officially connected to the Main Street America program; Wiggins has been an associate member of Mississippi Main Street for two years now. Main Street America has recently launched a campaign to help local businesses create a place-based strategy to help new entrepreneurs succeed and grow. “In communities like ours here in Stone County, shoppers want to feel like their money is making a difference locally and they want an experience versus just acquiring goods and services at a mall or box store,” said Stone County Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Betsy M. Rowell. “This desire for a sense of place means that shoppers want to feel a connection to the businesses they support, by knowing the owners or employees and having places that are aesthetically pleasing on the inside and out. If you look around the Central Business District, you can see the incredible work that is happening to improve the look and feel of store fronts and service providers.”
Case in point, nearly a dozen Wiggins businesses are participating in a façade program aimed at offering funds to make improvements to the building’s exterior spaces. That façade funding is made possible by a matching grant between Stone County Economic Development Partnership and Mississippi Power Company. Building design and honoring local resources and architecture is just one of the ways the Main Street America campaign suggests creating a sense of place to draw in customers. Entrepreneurs can also look at hosting events with other businesses and draw on their customer base and promotional resources to create a buzz to attract traffic, especially during the holidays.
The sense of place concept extends beyond the business district in Wiggins into businesses throughout Stone County. McDaniel’s General Merchandise in McHenry is a hub for both local customers and visitors to the area, many of whom make it a Saturday tradition to visit many of the vendor markets that take place throughout the year. Along with the ability to gas up the car and stock up on items inside the general store, McDaniel’s offers a comprehensive inventory of hardware, tools, lumber, and lawn and garden materials. “We are growing, and our customers love to come in and visit with us,” said McDaniel’s owner Patti Saia. “Some of our outdoor markets attract so much traffic we now enlist the help of law enforcement to manage the crowds. We are grateful that people make it a point to be with us and to shop local here in Stone County.” Saia believes it is important to network with support organizations in the community such as the SCEDP, which works to attract new industry while also supporting existing business industry and promote tourism along with overseeing infrastructure development to accommodate a growing community.
Recently the SCEDP hosted an event to launch Keep Stone County Beautiful, which was attended by First Lady Elee Reeves. This organization will seek to bring about litter prevention through educational campaigns in schools and working with local organizations like the Pine Hill Garden Club and Master Gardeners. “KSCB would like to get involved with enhancement projects such as painting, building, and landscaping, help coordinate recycling efforts and host local clean-up days throughout the county,” said KSCB Director Timothy Barnaba.
“Our board members at SCEDP have decided to support the new chapter of Keep Stone County Beautiful and allow it to operate within our organization,” said Rowell. “They believe that the objectives of this organization, along with Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, all work to improve the sense of place we are working to achieve here in Stone County.”