Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New and Exciting Places in Communities Across Mississippi

During my traveling across Mississippi, I have found some great places to shop.  As you can tell, shopping is my hobby.  I can hang with the best of them. Recently, I came across a new way of setting up shop. This is being done in a couple of communities.  Today lets discuss co-op shops.  These shops are popping up all over.  A co-op is a group of entrepreneurs who get together and rent booth spaces from an individual.  The owner of the shop takes care of everything from manning the area, to keeping up with what each booth sells, to taking care of the credit card machine and pays all the overhead.  The entrepreneur rents the booth spaces and then they pay a percentage of their sales to the shop owner for running the store.  It is a win- win for everybody.  This has been very successful across the nation, as well as in Mississippi.  The first time I saw this done was at a place in West Point called Bits and Pieces.  It is a great place and has a little of everything from antiques to new cool boutique items.  I wrote about them earlier in a blog called My Favorite Places. 

I was recently on the coast and had the chance to shop in a place called Maggie May’s.  Nancy Moynan, the owner, is a great lady and has really recovered from Katrina in a great way.  With many of the local artists and stores displaced, she decided to open up a shop with multiple booth spaces for artist to show their work.  One thing lead to another and now this great shop has many beautiful works of art and eclectic gifts.  I talked to Nancy, this week, to get her website address to share with you; but, she told me it is being developed and if you need any information you can email her direct (now that is customer service) at maggiemays126@att.net

I live in Columbus Mississippi, and a fairly new place has opened up, called Savvy Spaces Market Place.  What a cool place.  It has around 12 booths and has moderate to high-end merchandise.  I just love it.  Megan and her Mom, Donna Garrison, have the right idea.  Donna has been in retail for over 10 years and really knows the business.  She has had this idea for a while and opened the shop about 8 months ago.  Savvy Spaces Market Place has gifts, gourmet foods, clothing, locally made candles, children’s clothing, maternity wear, jewelry, stationary, and pewter.  I know she is always looking for good quality merchandise and artists to rent booths. 
So, if you get a chance to come to Columbus, Mississippi visit Savvy Spaces Market Place and tell Megan and Donna you read about them on Mississippi Maven – Expert Retail Therapist at janrmiller@blogspot.com. Cool Stuff!!!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Retailers Fit into the Festival Picture

Every year, towns all over Mississippi put on festivals during the spring and fall.  In the next few weeks some of our largest festivals will have taken place. These include: Market Street Festival in Columbus, Double Decker Festival in Oxford, Elvis Presley Festival in Tupelo, World’s Largest Crappie Festival in Water Valley, and Cotton District Arts Festival in Starkville.  Wow, that is a lot of festivals in a very short period of time.  These are only a few of the many festival around the state.  During this time, towns ask me what can I do for my retailers.

Many retailers are concerned with festivals because they are uninformed about the event.  It is important that you stay connected to your Main Street Organization for information on the festival.  Plan…Plan…Plan….

Ten Tips for Retailers to Survive Festival Fury
  1. Stay informed and get involved.  Know what is happening in your downtown.   Join Main Street, and if you don’t have one, join the Chamber.
  2.  Plan for events.  Calendars are put out months in advance.  When at market buy goods for each event. 
  3.  Set aside advertising dollars for the event.
  4. Do not close the day of an event.  It is bad business and sends the wrong message.
  5. Do not put a sign on your door saying no “public restroom”.  Have a youth or someone who their job that day is taking care of the restroom.  Have bottled water for your customers while they look around, and treat each person as if they are there only because you have the greatest store.  They will remember and they will be back.
  6. Have enough help that you can get out and enjoy some of the festivities. 
  7. Suggest to the festival organizers that they have a merchant or business liaison.  This helps with communication and also gives the merchants a voice.
  8.   Decorate accordingly.  Make sure your store is festive.
  9. Sponsor the festival and maximize your exposure.  Supporting the event is a great way to get your name out there and be a team player.
  10.  But above all the items on this list, you must have FUN.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Favorite Places

 I told you about one of my favorite restaurants so I decided to tell you about a great place to shop in West Point, Mississippi that I love love love!  Bits N Pieces is a family owned business in the heart of downtown West Point.  Some might say it is an antique mall, some might say it is a junk store but I say it is a treasure.  Every time I go I find something I like and they are so willing to help me.  I had seen a friend with the cutest boots in hot pink and I just had to have a pair.  She told me she got them at Bits N Pieces.  My niece and I went over to find the boots and boy were we surprised when we got there.  Tucked away in downtown West Point was this cool, eclectic shop with about 40 booths, everything from antiques to sassy boots.  I was fired up and could not get enough.  I have been many times since that day and always am amazed at how well everything is displayed and different every time I go.  I love the great customer service and all the great sales associates who work there.  As you all know I am a big proponent of downtown independent retailers and it just goes to show that you don't have to go far to find cool places to shop.  So explore your downtown and see what cool places you have in your community to shop.  Later I will talk about this co-op concept and how it is all the rage across the state.

My Favorite Places

I travel all over the state and have the luxury of checking out great places to eat and shop.  I have a restaurant that I can not get enough of.  When I go they know me by name (because I raised those boys on the river), are always smiling and they care about their customer.  I love Huck's Place in Columbus, Mississippi.  The food is great and the burgers are to die for. They have an item on the menu that is uniquely theirs and it is what I tell guest to  get when they come to visit ...... Crawfish Nacho's.  SO GOOD!!! It is a great place to go and hang out. The best thing is they are downtown and convenient.  I feel at home at Huck's and love to take visitors there.  Brian and Bubba have a home run as far as I am concerned and they just need to keep up the good work.  I am ready for a fish taco as we speak.  Stop by next week and tell Linda .... Jan sent ya.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Have a Blog? Who Me?

Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself  “how did I get here and who helped me?” As I have gotten older I realize that it really does take a village to raise a child and I was so fortunate to have a very large village. 

I grew up in Birmingham Alabama and moved to Mississippi to go to Mississippi University for Women and met my husband Glenn Miller.  Glenn has been such an inspiration to me but it was my mother who influence my love for shopping. 

I just recently put both of my parents in an assisted living home in Birmingham, Alabama and that was very enlightening.  I brought home all the keepsake items out of my parents house to make shadowboxes for my three brothers and twin sister.  What I found was information about my mother that has molded me into who I am and it prompted this Blog.  My mother worked for McCall’s Magazine.  I knew she had won a contest but I had no idea she was a conference speaker, and actually went out and checked on advertisers in stores for McCall’s. I chuckled when I saw she was bringing home $6.00 a week but I guess that was good back then.  It made me realize my love for shopping and helping people find cool stuff really came from my mother.

As you all know I love to shop so it was a natural for me to go into Fashion Merchandising in College.  I loved working for the Bridal Shop and Raymond’s while in College, Egger’s department store as a buyer and then onto McRae’s as an Area Sales Manager where I finished out my career in retail of 14 years.  I never realized that I would be working with an organization that promotes economic development through revitalization of downtowns.

Through the years I have met many people who have inspired me and one really sticks out and that was my teacher at MUW.  Ms. Goodman was a no non- sense kind of teacher.  She would pick on me because I was not serious about college and never showed any effort. One day she called me into her office and told me I would not be good in merchandising if I did not get off my behind and get to work.  She told me that I must give 110% because the field was saturated and I would be a sales associate for the rest of my life.  Wow! What an awakening.  I use that 110% rule all the time and have lived my life by it. She was a wonderful mentor, teacher and friend. 

There is another person who was instrumental in molding me into whom I am today and that was my neighbor Pate Kaye.  Pat died recently of cancer.  I still think about her often and miss her terribly.  She made me grow up and taught me so much about life.  We both shared our love for shopping and good food.  I am so fortunate to have known her and now I get the honor of watching her children raise their families and this has been one of my greatest joys.

Ben Muldrow has been someone who really believed in me and pushed me, pushed really hard for me to do this.  Ben is a Branding specialist for Arnett Muldrow and Associates.  Ben has been a real inspiration and a great mentor.  He believes in me and has encouraged me to follow my dreams.

I am not a great writer but I love to help people and talk about my adventures while I am in these great communities across our state.  Thank you for all the encouragement and I hope you enjoy the snippets of  my shopping and dining experiences.