Category Archives: Retail

MSU’s New Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach Holds Open House in Starkville

MSU’s New Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach Holds Open House in Starkville

Courtesy of the MSU Newsroom


Pictured touring new business conference space designated for the MSU CEO Downtown at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership are (from left to right) Jacob Miller, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Lucedale who has started a company called Black Creek Innovation; GSDP President and CEO Scott Maynard; Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill; MSU College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald; Jeffrey Rupp, outreach director for MSU’s College of Business; Jerry Toney, president of Cadence Bank for Mississippi and national treasurer for the MSU Alumni Association; Rahul Gopal, MSU graduate and founder and CEO of CampusKnot Inc. and Benjamin Jordon, an MSU senior finance major from Starkville who also is vice president of sales for CampusKnot Inc. (Photo by Megan Bean)


MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach, also known as the CEO, and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership recently held an open house in order to show off a special space that has been designated for business use by the university

“This is a very unique town and gown situation, and we have full support from the mayor and [MSU President] Dr. Keenum,” said Jeffrey Rupp, MSU outreach director for the College of Business.

“My hope is that we will have an explosion of this type of business activity. Entrepreneurs become tenants who become long-term tenants and residents of the community and a major part of the fabric of our overall town,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said.

Scott Maynard, GSDP president and CEO, spoke to the explosion of local entrepreneurs who are in need of dedicated, proper place to do business: “At the beginning of the year, we’ll open four additional office suites to be used as incubator space for new businesses,” said Maynard, who was named to his position this year after a long career as director of MSU’s Career Center.

Rahul Gopal, one such young entrepreneur, gave commentary from his own perspective: “Having this space lends legitimacy,” he explained. “You need to get people to a place where they are serving the community. It’s nice to have space where people can stop by and we can host meetings.”

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Starkville’s Newest (And Only) Vinyl Record Store to Open This Week

Starkville’s Newest (And Only) Vinyl Record Store to Open This Week

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

Scooter’s Records on University Drive in Starkville (photo courtesy of SDN – Ryan Philips)

Independent vinyl record shop, Scooter’s Records, moved into a former tanning salon’s location on University Drive this October; its owner, Scott Thomas, has been working hard since then to make his dream a reality: “I wanted to be where there’s walking traffic,” Thomas said. “If I had to be in a strip mall or on Highway 12, I didn’t think that was going to work out for me or I would be happy. I wanted to be in the middle of the students.” Plans are to formally open this Wednesday, making it Starkville’s only dedicated record store; he hopes to hold a formal Grand Opening sometime after Thanksgiving. At first, he will be open from 11AMto 8PM, seven days a week, though his hours may change based on how much business he gets, church crowds on Sundays, etc.


Thomas is excited about the prospect of filling this increasingly popular niche, and he is eagerly looking forward to future endeavors: “Eventually, I would like to get coffee into my place and push the hours back, open up earlier so people could come in and do coffee,” Thomas said. “ I want to have, when the weather is nice, set up a tent out front and still do these pop-up things.”

Thomas used to work for the City of Starkville; after 28 years of service, he retired and decided to dedicate his time to starting his own business. While he first became interested back in the early 90’s, he noted that “…records were going away,” Thomas said. “Records are going back in style and all of the college towns around here have record stores.”

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Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Fried chicken is just one of those foods that is synonymous with the South – and people flock from literally hundreds of miles around to get their fried chicken at Columbus’ own Food Goant supermarket, which has been supplying the all of their customers with tender, juicy birds for a decade or so.

Head fry cook Bobby Hill and Matt Critcher, one of Hill’s five fry cooks, batter chicken at Food Giant in Columbus Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Bobbie Reese, the store’s deli manager, says that ” . . . [We] sell about 3,800 pieces a day; more on weekends,” she said. “It’s hard to say. I do know we order 275 cases of chicken each week and by the time Monday rolls around, we’ll have two, maybe three cases left before the next order comes in.” That works out to over six tons of of chicken sold every every week, year-round – nor far short of a ton a day. On average, their deli has 1,400 customers per week, according to store manager Ty Dankins, who has been there from the beginning.

“Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Macon, West Point,” Reese said. “There is a church in Birmingham that comes in once a month to pick up an 800-piece order. They say they can’t find chicken that tastes like ours anywhere else.” To what does she credit such amazing customer loyalty? “It’s the batter,” Reese said. “That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a secret.”

The store uses four commercial-grade frying machines, each capable of cooking 112 pieces of chicken per hour from 7 AM to 6:30 PM daily. Each one is drained of oil, cleaned, and refilled twice a day with peanut oil to guarantee a fresh, clean taste, and an end product that is much less greasy than many place’s fare.

“There’s little bit of a lull until around 4,” Bobby Hill, the store’s head fry cook and manager of all things chicken-related, said. “Then people start coming in to pick up supper . . . I’ve been frying chicken since Day 1,” he went on to say. “When I came in for the job interview, they told me, ‘We sell a lot of chicken. Don’t let the chicken whoop you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to whoop that chicken.’ That first day, I couldn’t believe it. I came here from Flint, Michigan. People like fried chicken there, and I guess people everywhere like fried chicken. But it’s not like what it is here. It’s amazing.”

The store is well-equipped to handle unusually large orders, though they suggest that you call well in advance for the really big ones: “If you’re going to make a big order like 800 pieces, you better do it about a week ahead of time because the order book fills up pretty quick,” Hill said.  “If somebody walks in and orders 100 pieces, we tell them, ‘Sure, we can do that, but you might have to wait 10 or 15 minutes,'” Hill said. “I bet if you walk into one of those fried chicken order places and tried to order 100 pieces, they’d tell you you’re crazy.”

The display case is piled high with freshly fried chicken by 8 am each morning at Food Giant in Columbus – Photo by Deanna Robinson – Dispatch Staff

“Sunday is our biggest day,” Reese said. “We’ll have people lined up all the way to the back of the store. People don’t mind waiting.”

Food Giant, an employee-owned company, operates more than 100 stores across the Southern U.S., under names including Food Giant, Piggly Wiggly, Cost Plus, Pick ‘n Save, Market Place, Sureway and Mad Butcher. Their workers and managers are all allowed the opportunity to purchase stock in their own store, which tends to lead to a sense of pride in their store, and a personal investment in its success. This means that more of the money made literally stays right here in Columbus, in the hands of the people who work hardest to keep it running smoothly – and THAT’S Good for Business!

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Local Entrepreneurs Picking Up Steam

Local Entrepreneurs Picking Up Steam

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

MUW played host to a small business seminar Tuesday night, that was put on by BancorpSouth and the Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce. The hall was packed with people young and old who wished to learn more about how to go about starting up their own small businesses.

“The majority (who attended) were people who were just thinking about (starting a business) or have ideas to do it and needed to know where to start,” said Emily McConnell, director of programs and events at the CoC. “The seminar was great for that, just in encouraging them to do it, to get out there and try.”

Mary Jennifer Russell (courtesy photo)

One of the featured speakers was Mary Jennifer Russell of New Albany. In 1997, she had been moving from job to job while dabbling in baking on the side, as a way to bring in supplemental income. She gradually grew her business, and, a year after beginning, she had (what was then) her first major sale — ten cakes, sold to a yogurt shop. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and now Russell’s Sugarees Bakery puts out a thousand cakes a week, while employing 37 people. Her story has been featured in publications such as the New York Times and Oprah’s Magazine, and Russel earned her place as this year’s Mississippi Small Business Administration (SBA) Small Business Person of the Year.

She had this advice to give to people just starting out: “What do you want to see?” she said. “What do you want to smell? Really, really envision it with lots of detail.” She also emphasized the need to keep good books, constantly improving the business even after it’s up and running and – in particular – making sure to take good care of good employees.

Russell went on to offer this piece of advice: “It’s easy enough if you start with low-risk,” she said. “…It can be done. It should be done.” She recommends keeping your old job for as many years as it takes to get the new venture to a profitable stage; it took her four years to do so, herself, resulting in her opening her own dedicated shop after proving that her business concept was viable simply by doing exactly what she set out to do.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – The more of them we have, the more people who are willing to take on that risk – The more success stories we’ll hear, given time, investment, and a lot of hard work. And that’s Good for Business!

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Columbus To Get New Places To Go To For Fresh Burgers And Trucker Service

Courtesy of The Dispatch


Wythe Rhett of Rhett Real Estate recently confirmed that Cook Out, the North Carolina-based burger chain that set up a successful location in Starkville about a year ago, plans to open a location in North Columbus. Cook Out recently finalized the purchase of the old Immanuel Baptist Church property on 18th Ave N, which had not been in use in the past two years.  Their current intention is to “demolish the (church) building and carve out enough of the property to put Cook Out on, then look at the possibility of adding another motel or strip (mall).”

Cook Out eateries are known for grilled burgers, barbecue and more than 40 kinds of milkshakes. The Starkville location employs approximately 50 and is open 10:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday-Saturday. This would be the fourth Cook Out location in the state, joining its over 170 brethren nationwide.


The Volume Freight shipping company, owned by Doug Estes, is currently building a new steel structure on Hwy 82 near the Vibrant Church West location. The finished building will serve as a two-floor terminal with a three-vehicle bay shop to maintain Volume’s fleet of 65 trucks. Next up once that’s ready is a planned 150-thousand square foot warehouse and approximately 35 new trucks. The company employs about 80 drivers, who service the contiguous 48 states, plus about eight local mechanics; roughly half of the trucks  are based locally, as well. Volume Freight, a local company, has been in business since 1988.



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Palmer Home Hires Local for New Director of Development

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Palmer Home for Children, Christian organization which offers education and shelter to children in need, has hired Columbus native Meryl Fisackerly as director of development at the regional children’s home.  In this role, her main role will be to handle relationships with donors and put together fundraisers.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Fisackerly said. “I’m so far loving the job. Everyone there is great. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the community and establishing who Palmer is and what we’re about. … It’s a fabulous organization and everybody needs to know about it.”

PH spokespeople said that she has experience in both retail and commercial sales, and that she is deeply engaged with the community, making her a great asset,

“Meryl is one of those rare find,” Vice President of Engagement Sarah Hollis said. “She is integrated in the Golden Triangle community personally, professionally and through civic involvement, including tutoring children at Palmer Home. Meryl embodies our mission and will be vital to engaging this community to fulfill our call to care for vulnerable children.”

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Academy Set to Open New Location in Starkville

Academy Sports+Outdoors Communication Specialist Karly Makovy has announced the Grand Opening date for the chain’s new Starkville location: Friday, June 2. Their website will have more information about the location in the coming months, including special events and other promotions.

Academy sells an array of sporting, hunting, and fishing equipment; Starkville’s location will have apparel with Mississippi sports teams, including the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.

Up until this point, the nearest locations to Starkville have been in Tupelo and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

West Point’s Hwy 45 Corridor Thriving

WEST POINT, Miss. (Courtesy of WTVA)

Ever since Yokohama opened for business on the North side of town in 2015, the area’s South side along Hwy 45 has been booming, reports Lisa Klutts, the director of The Community Development Growth Alliance. She says that more business openings are on the way: “Burger King opened just under a year ago, Express Lube opened just recently and Love’s truck stop with Arby’s will be opening in May.”

The Growth Alliance said  that Burger King on Highway 45 surmounted national record sales on its opening day. “It seems like a pretty good business move to me, if they’re in it to make money,” said driver David Nelson.

The Growth Alliance said they watch trends to see if businesses are expanding in the state. “We would like to see more shoe stores or clothing stores,” said Klutts. There are currently no public plans to bring such stores to the area (yet), but, at the city grows and the Golden Triangle becomes more and more attractive to big business, who knows what the future may hold…?

All we know is, that’s good for the Golden Triangle, and that’s Good for Business!

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Starkville Farmers Market is Back

Starkville Farmers Market is Back

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Prather (courtesy

Starkville Community Market will be open this Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. at Fire Station No. 1 Park.

SCM manager and Greater Starkville Development Partnership special events coordinator Jennifer Prather reports that roughly eight to ten vendors are expected to sell early spring produce and other goods at the event; more growers and producers are expected to join when the market’s Saturday offerings begin May 6. “We’ve spoken to new vendors outside of Starkville about new offerings, like baked goods and goat’s cheese and milk. We’re looking to increase the variety,” she said.

The Market will be held at Fire Station No. 1’s greenspace, located at the intersection of Lampkin and Russell streets.

Prather went on to say, “We’re working with Starkville Utilities to help grow the capacity for electricity there. Many vendors require refrigeration for their products, so that’s a priority for us moving forward. We’re also working on a project to install new benches and garbage cans, and overall looking into other ways to better develop the area in a community friendly way . . . We’re really enjoying the location. The aesthetics make a huge difference because the area is friendly to vendors and shoppers.”

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Bargain Hunt, Vapezy Open; LA Shrimp Shack Shutters its Doors


In mid-February The Dispatch brought us the news that Bargain Hunt would be opening in Columbus in the former Southern Family Market location next to K-Mart. The store is now preparing for a grand opening to be held on March 17. Their new Columbus location is in addition to their existing one in Starkville, and more than sixty others nationwide.

The store’s hours will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. It will bring 25 new jobs to the area.

Highway 45 gained another new attraction in the form of Vapezy, a premium e-liquid and supply store located at 1909-B Hwy. 45 N.  Billy and Andrea Ezell opened Vapezy in September of last year.  The couple are originally from Webster County, where they became friends through the medium of vaping, that is, the enjoyment of vapor-producing electronic cigarettes.

“We want to present a greater sense of community than other shops,” Ezell said regarding the store’s future. “That’s what the vape scene is really about.”

While currently operating out of the store’s front section, there are plans to add a lounge into the 1,800 square-foot building. The store carries eight different lines of e-liquid and plans to expand to carry numerous vaping devices, from starter to advanced level, alongside additional e-liquids.  Vapezy is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Finally, the Louisiana Shrimp Shack quietly closed its doors on Feb. 21.  The Shrimp Shack originally opened Sept. 8, 2016, with Kenny Whitey, a fisherman from New Orleans, as owner. It was located at 1909-A Hwy. 45 N. and enjoyed much praise from locals for its fresh from the gulf seafood and “straight-outta-the-bayou” home-cooking.  Whitey said the travel to and from the shack was too much for the family to maintain.

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