‘This the Season to Shop Local in Laurel!

For as long as I, or anyone else can remember, the merchants of Downtown Laurel have held their Christmas Open House on the first Sunday of November.  This serves as the perfect preview for a much newer movement, Small Business Saturday.  With more than 20 places to shop, browse, and eat in the walkable downtown area, this year’s Christmas Open House is sure to provide something for everyone on your shopping list!  Bring your friends and family and support our local businesses this holiday season!

Christmas Open House Details

Most downtown merchants and retailers will be open from 12-5 p.m. on Sunday, November 4th for the Annual Christmas Open House.  However, it is up to each individual retailer to set their own hours for this event, so if there’s a shop you don’t want to miss, be sure to check with them for their hours.

The Importance of Shopping Local

We’ve heard it stated time and again that local businesses are the backbone of a community, and indeed, they are.  Small businesses, locally owned and operated, are an integral part of our community. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, “Independent, local businesses employ an array of supporting services by “buying locally” themselves. They hire architects, designers, cabinet shops, sign makers and contractors for construction. Local accountants, insurance brokers, computer consultants, attorneys, advertising agencies help run it. Local retailers and distributors also carry a higher percentage of locally-produced goods than chains, meaning more jobs for local producers.” Sounds a lot like Laurel, right?

Research reports show that for every dollar spent at a local business, 3.5 dollars are recirculated into the local economy, which creates more local jobs. Money spent at a chain retailer often doesn’t leave that chain retailer, as they outsource most of their products and services.

When you shop locally, you get to know the people behind the business and you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Our local businesses give our community its flavor. The combined presence of our town’s many local businesses makes it different from every other city in the world. By supporting those businesses instead of chains, you help preserve the uniqueness our community.  Local businesses define our sense of place, and their survival depends on our patronage.  So this holiday season, we urge you to SHOP LOCAL in LAUREL.

Loblolly Festival: Things to Know Before You Go

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — It’s time for Loblolly Festival!  This year’s festival is one you won’t soon forget because it’s our largest Loblolly Festival EVER!  Here are some tips to help you enjoy the festival, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran.  Loblolly Festival is one of Laurel’s biggest events with over 12,000 people attending annually, so lace up your walking shoes, it’s festival time!

Beat the Crowds:

The festival officially starts at 9am, so if you want to get first pick of the merchandise or avoid the crowds, come early.

Get a T-Shirt While You Can:

Stop by the Laurel Main Street trailer, which will be stationed on West Oak St., and purchase a Loblolly Festival t-shirt.  Make this one of your first stops because these shirts will go fast!

Wear Your Walking Shoes:

Loblolly Festival covers almost all of the central business district of downtown Laurel and includes over 120 vendors, crafters, performers, and activities. You’re bound to see a lot of people you know and some you forgot you knew!

Check the map and schedule:

When you arrive be sure to pick up a map.  If you’re a strategic shopper, this will definitely make it easier for you to find any specific vendors you came to see.  

2018 Loblolly map

Bring cash:

Some vendors accept credit cards, but not all do.  There is an ATM located downtown at the Laurel Welcome Center inside the First National Bank building.

Be sure to check out the brick and mortar merchants too:

Most downtown retail stores and restaurants are open during the festival and many offer sales, specials, and live entertainment.

Check the weather:

Loblolly Festival is a rain or shine event so check the weather and dress accordingly.  The Laurel YWCO will be open and available to the community from 10am – 2pm during the Loblolly Festival.  Come in to cool off and enjoy your lunch in the tea room! 

MMSA Downtown Revitalization Awards: Merchant of the Year

The Mississippi Main Street Association‘s award for Merchant of the Year recognizes one outstanding local business owner who has a flourishing and innovative business and displays an involved commitment to downtown and his or her Main Street program.  On June 21, 2018, Lott Furniture Co. received this honor at the annual MMSA Downtown Revitalization Awards in Jackson, MS. The following narrative was written by Ethan Davis and was submitted to the Mississippi Main Street judges panel.

Merchant of the Year

Lott Furniture Co. is Laurel’s oldest business; they have over a century of history in our small town. Rodney Rowell and his wife Angie believe that their business is more than just a means to an end. They believe that it is a resource for them to put down roots in their community.

Lott Furniture

The business is most certainly a family affair. Rodney’s mother, Nelly, worked there for over 50 years, with Rodney and his sister Candy following in her footsteps. In fact, Angie and Rodney met each
other while working at Lott Furniture. Now, their daughter, Keri, is stepping in to continue the tradition. The Lott crew loves history, and they fuse it with present and future in every aspect of their business. They, of course, take payments via credit cards, but they still do their books by hand, still know their customers by name, still care about the person behind the purchase. 

The Lott Furniture business model is revolutionary, but it’s actually not new. The team took Mr. Lott’s original business model—selling furniture on credit—and adapted it to the young couples that move to Laurel. The couples were amazed that they could get amazing furniture and afford it by paying monthly. Lott Furniture is re-educating the youngest generations about building relationships through credit. They also started a series of workshops called Wine and Design that give décor tips and advice on how to turn a house into a home.

However, the most incredible thing about the folks at Lott is their commitment to Downtown Laurel. Their Instagram feed is dedicated to Laurel itself; you’ll only see ads for their products in their stories. Rodney Rowell has been called the cheerleader for Laurel, and a quick look at how much he supports his fellow local businesses attests to that name. He buys everything he can from fellow merchants downtown and is a tireless supporter of Laurel Main Street. Rodney even met with local creative Bethany Byrd of Own Your Hill to create a map of Downtown Laurel and the other merchants there. Lott Furniture paid for the first batch, and it is now a staple in Downtown; every visitor picks one up when they start to explore.

When it comes to Downtown Laurel, the Rowell’s have seen it all: a thriving center of business, a downtown disrupted by urban renewal, the sheds coming down and the streets alive again. Rodney is the go-to guy for all young and older entrepreneurs. He is the epitome of believing, in good times and bad.

Rowell Family

On Thursday, June 21, 2018 the Mississippi Main Street Association hosted their 29th Annual Downtown Revitalization Awards Luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson, MS.  Each year Mississippi Main Street recognizes excellence in downtown revitalization and honors local Main Street champions.  This is a wonderful opportunity to show the success of Laurel Main Street, to exchange ideas with other Main Street organizations, and is especially encouraging to see other thriving and successful communities. 

Essentials for Downtown Thursday

The start of Downtown Thursday is only a week away so we’ve rounded up some items from our downtown merchants that will make your trip to the Laurel Farmers Market and Downtown Movie Night a breeze even if there’s not a breeze in sight.

Make Your List & Check it Twice

Take your grocery list with you to the Farmers Market and buy what you can locally grown!  The Gift Shop at Oak Street Place, housed inside the same building as popular downtown hangout Lee’s Coffee & Tea, offers beautiful paper goods, gift items, and these Market List notepads by Rifle Paper Co.

Country Farm Market List by Rifle Paper Co. | Gift Shop at Oak Street Place | Click to Shop

Citrus Floral Julep Market List by Rifle Paper Co. | Gift Shop at Oak Street Place | Click to Sho

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Cool

Summer sun in South Mississippi is no laughing matter.  Keep your cool and show your love for downtown with a Downtown Laurel cap from Lott Furniture Co.  Stay hydrated with luxury tumblers by Sovaro from Patina’s.  Sovaro coolers are also available for purchase if you want to pack a picnic for movie night!

Downtown Laurel Cap | Lott Furniture Co.

Sovaro Coolers & Tumblers | Patina’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See and Be Seen

Downtown Thursday is more than a market or a movie; it’s a weekly social event!  Keep your cool and look your best with shades from Guild & Gentry or a cute new outfit from Sass & Class Boutique on Central Ave.

Maho Shades | Guild & Gentry

Top and Shorts | Sass & Class Boutique

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totes Y’all

You’re sure to load up on lots of goodies at the Farmers Market and you’ll definitely want a hand getting them home!  These tote bags are the perfect size and shape so be sure to pick one up before the market!

Beehive Market Bag | Adam Trest Home | Click to Shop

Canvas Tote | Laurel Mercantile Co. | Click to Shop

Downtown Laurel Canvas Tote | Lott Furniture Co.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner and a Movie

On Thursdays, pack a picnic or grab dinner downtown!  These huge microfiber beach towels from Guild & Gentry are perfect for a picnic during Downtown Movie Night.  Vintage quilts also make fantastic picnic blankets and can be purchased at Peddlers’ Junktion.

Dock and Bay Microfiber Beach Towels | Guild & Gentry | Click to Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knight Butcher will be open until 7:00 p.m. every Thursday in June and will offer tax free jerky, fudge, and brown bag dinners!  If you don’t want to take your dinner to-go, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy live music on The Knight Butcher stage from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Knight Sugar Homemade Fudge | The Knight Butcher

Knight Jerky | The Knight Butcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can’t wait to see all the vendors and visitors next Thursday for the first Downtown Thursday of the season!

Countdown to Downtown Thursday!

The temperatures are rising and we’re counting down the days to summer!  Locals and visitors alike are looking forward to the longer days and activities that summer brings.  A favorite summertime event in Laurel is “Downtown Thursday” and this year, it’s getting a makeover!

Downtown Thursday is a series family-friendly evenings every Thursday night beginning May 31st and lasting until June 28th. Friends from all over Mississippi and beyond are welcome to attend this exciting, fun-filled season of fresh produce, live entertainment, movies, and community.

 The evenings will kick off with a Farmers Market from 5-8 pm and will continue with a family-friendly movie at The Backlot. Each night will feature live music on the Farmers Market Stage outside of Southern Antiques, along with great food and endless fun. 

The Laurel Farmers Market

The Laurel Farmers Market is definitely not your usual farmers market! It offers a street fair environment with something different going on each week… from kids’ activities and food trucks to live music and a car show! At its new location on North Magnolia Street, the Laurel Farmers Market will be open for business from 5 pm – 8 pm under the lights of downtown. Aside from stocking up on fruits, vegetables, and an assortment of homemade foods, visitors to this market can also stop by the many merchants along Magnolia Street and the entire downtown. This seasonal market attracts local farmers, gardeners, artisans, and craftsmen, resulting in an impressive variety of merchandise. Check out the Laurel Farmers Market for yourself every Thursday starting May 31st – through June 28th.

If you’re interested in becoming a vendor at the Laurel Farmers Market, click here to register.

Farmers Market Entertainment Line-up

MAY 31 –    KERRY THOMAS  (FIREWORKS AT 8PM)

JUNE 7 –    TOPHER BROWN  (with special guests BEN & ERIN NAPIER)

JUNE 14 –  GRAYSON CAPPS (FOOD TRUCK NIGHT)

JUNE 21 –  JOHN MILHAM JAZZ TRIO

JUNE 28 –  DJ JIM SCOTT (RED, WHITE & VROOM CAR & BIKE SHOW)

Downtown Movie Night

Downtown Movie Night is a highly anticipated summertime event and gets bigger and better each year!  Join us in The Backlot at the end of Magnolia Street after the Farmer’s Market for family-friendly movies under the stars.

Downtown Movie Night Line-up

coco movie

May 31st

ferdinand movie

June 7th

boss baby movie

June 14th

peter rabbit movie

June 21st

despicable me movie

June 28th

A new addition to the Downtown Thursday entertainment schedule is the Red, White, & Vroom Car & Bike Show.  It will take place on Thursday, June 28th from 3pm-8pm on the 400 block of Central Avenue.  Registration is going on now!  Click here for more information or to register!

car show

These fantastic events would not be possible without signature sponsor, Central Sunbelt Federal Credit Union.  Laurel Main Street is proud to partner with The Agape Church and Central Sunbelt FCU to continue bringing Downtown Thursday fun to Laurel!