CLARKSDALE — The Shack Up Inn only started in business in 1998, but proudly declares itself “the state’s oldest B&B.” But in the case of the Shack Up Inn, the B&B stands for Bed & Beer.
“We realized early on we couldn’t fool with breakfast,” says Bill Talbot, one of the owners of a unique “six pack” of sharecropper shacks that make up one of the state’s most unusual lodging establishments.
If you stay at the Shack Up Inn, most likely you’ll find few Mississippi residents among the guests. But it has quite a cult following among people from Europe and big cities in the U.S. such as New York and Los Angeles. The inn attracts visitors looking for a uniquely Southern experience in the town known as the Birthplace of Blues.
The business started in 1998 with a shack, a former tractor’s shed, primarily used by a songwriter’s group from Nashville. One of the business owners, Tommy Polk, is a songwriter from Nashville. Polk started bringing other writers, and the group would write songs all day and then perform at night next door at the Commissary (the bar that provides the beer part of this B&B).
In 1998 the owners paid $600 for the shack of Robert Clay, a tractor driver. It cost another $2,500 to move the shack to the property. When the writers weren’t around, the shacks sat empty. Then some tourists from Europe came by and asked about renting the shacks.
“All of a sudden we got busy with tourists, primarily from Europe, who wanted to stay in the shacks,” Talbot said. “We added two more in 2000, and another two in 2002. So now we have a six pack of shacks here at the Bed & Beer.”
The shacks are homey and comfortable, furnished with a lot of antiques and recycled building materials. But this is not a five-star hotel. “We aren’t for everyone,” Talbot says. “The Ritz Carlton, we ain’t.”
But there’s no doubt this business has found a nich