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Local retailers battle football, big box stores


Sarah Fowler



Over the last few years, there has been a national movement to support small business. Small Business Saturday follows Black Friday and encourages shoppers to shop local and support members of their community by shopping at small, locally-owned businesses instead of big national chain stores.  


But in the Golden Triangle, there was competition from another source: Egg and Iron. 


With Mississippi State playing Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl in Oxford and Alabama taking on Auburn in the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa, some Golden Triangle business owners said the shopping took a back seat to football on Saturday. 


Jackie Chasteen with Deep South Pout in Columbus said that while business was steady Saturday, she feels the Egg Bowl lured away some of her customers to Oxford.  


"I think we would have been busier if the Egg Bowl had been played in Starkville," she said.  


Chasteen said the clothing store is usually busy the week Mississippi State plays at home.  


"We're really busy right before and on game days," she added.  


For Rebecca Tabb, owner of boutique clothing store R. Tabb and Company in Starkville, opening her store on Saturday wasn't worth the effort, despite Small Business Saturday. Tabb was closed Friday and Saturday, saying that as a small business in a college town, she couldn't compete.  


Tabb said her decision to close her store on Friday was due to the traffic the big chain stores would have on Friday. On Saturday, she closed because of the Egg Bowl.  


"On Friday and Saturday, most people are doing Black Friday in bigger towns. As a local business, we can't give as big of discounts as the bigger stores," she said.  


Tabb said she was closed on Saturday because students either traveled home for Thanksgiving or traveled to Oxford to watch the Bulldogs play the Rebels. 


"For the most part, anyone that was left in Starkville is going to the game." 


Still, there was some cause for optimism Saturday. 


Susan McKay, who owns Party and Paper in Columbus, had been concerned about the number of shoppers who would frequent her store on Saturday. By the end of the day, she had been pleasantly surprised.  


"We finally had a day that felt like Christmas," she said.  


Jill Williams, owner of Cafe Aromas on Main Street in Columbus, said she heard several of her customers talking about shopping locally to support small businesses.  


"I had a couple of people come in and say they were shopping small," she said.  


Despite the football games, Williams and McKay said they were pleased with the amount of customers they had Saturday.  


"We're out of everything," Williams said, referring to her normally ample supply of pastries.  


"I feel like we got a lot more attention this year for Small Business Saturday," McKay added.  


Chasteen said that while she understands people are going to go to football games, she encouraged customers to shop local, not just on Small Business Saturday but every day.  


"Every dollar you spend in your community you see a return," she said. "It doesn't just help your tax revenue. It helps your community, period."


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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