Business owners in downtown Laurel look forward to spring events

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) – Business owners in downtown Laurel are excited for the events the spring weather brings.

Many opened their doors Tuesday to let in the fresh air and welcome locals and tourists to take a stroll into all that downtown have to offer.

For two years, the owners of Touch of Grace have been selling stylish women’s clothes on Magnolia Street. Just last month, they opened The Duck Blind – a brother store next door.

“We have a local guy that actually makes our turkey calls, and so we’re helping local businesses as well by advertising, you know, putting their product in our store,” says owner Joe Williamson.

He and his family are all about supporting local businesses this year. He gives credit to the HGTV show “Hometown” for making business flourish again in Laurel.

“’Hometown’ has actually helped out the economy here tremendously, you know. Before we weren’t even recognizable on a map, you know,” says Williamson.

Downtown construction has been a point of concern for lots of owners recently.

“Construction has hindered a lot and actually hurt a lot of businesses on Central Avenue. I like to tell everybody to go to Central Avenue, bear with the construction. But there’s a lot of good businesses as well for a lot of great stuff over there,” Williamson explains.

Just around the corner at Lee’s Coffee and Tea, manager Sarah Smith says January is one of the slowest months of the year.

“Can’t really control what numbers come in day-by-day but you can just be prepared and be uplifting and encouraging to local businesses and each other,” Smith explains.

The family-owned business is a downtown staple and has been for generations. Smith says the shop has a similar experience so far with the construction.

“We have fortunately not been too much hit by the construction. But we know our neighbors have. We encourage people the foot traffic that comes through here the tourism’s that we do have our locals, I always tell them, ‘Hey, you can walk down this path to get there,’” says Smith.

Just like Southern Antiques owner, Andrea Milham, they are all looking forward to a spring and summer full of fun downtown.

“We are super excited about everything that the spring and summer has to offer. We’re hoping to bring back our huge summer sale that we have done in the past. We stopped it for a couple of years due to COVID and those sorts of things because it does bring in a lot of traffic. But that is one of the things that we are going to be bringing back this year,” Milham explains.

Milham says despite the construction being a few doors down from her store, the support people are showing is incredible and very much appreciated.

“For the past three or four years Southern Antiques has seen record growth year over year, every single solitary year. For us to be doing improvements over those numbers has been a wonderful surprise for us, especially with the construction that’s going on downtown and all of the things that we’re having to overcome,” says Milham.

“The customers are still coming in. We’re still seeing visitors coming into Laurel and it’s been a wonderful season for us.”

Owners encourage people to spread their time across a visit to downtown.

“Since we’ve been here, the support has been not only local, but we get tourists coming in and seeing our products. We’ve actually, you know, we’ve grown a lot, and we plan on growing a lot more. So I thank everybody for their support,” says Williamson.

Some upcoming events in downtown Laurel include Trustmark’s Annual “Touch a Truck” on March 5, Laurel Mercantile’s Mississippi Made Event on March 12, “Wine Down Downtown” on March 25 and the Live in Laurel Spring Concert Series starting on March 26.

You can see more events in downtown Laurel on the community calendar here.

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