TUPELO — Downtown Tupelo and The Mall at Barnes Crossing should be partners, not competitors, according to initial recommendations from a consultant.
Tripp Muldrow, of Arnett Muldrow & Associates in Greenville, S.C., said during a recent presentation that the two groups could increase their market share if they work together to promote Tupelo as the complete shopping package — the Barnes Crossing district with its national brands and downtown with its independent stores and restaurants.
“There’s rivalry and there really shouldn’t be,” Muldrow said. “It should be ‘we,’ not an ‘us or them.'”
Muldrow, who was hired by the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, said Tupelo is unusual because it has a mall and a downtown that are both alive.
The findings are part of Muldrow’s initial observations and recommendations for the Main Street Association, which asked him to do a market assessment to see where downtown Tupelo is now and to give recommendations for where it could go.
Muldrow interviewed downtown leaders, shoppers, business owners and residents. He also did market research, such as tracking ZIP codes and license plates of shoppers.
In his recent presentation to Main Street and city leaders, he said about 60 percent of downtown shoppers were from Lee County. About half of the Lee County shoppers were from Tupelo ZIP codes, he said.
In the Barnes Crossing shopping district, where he included the mall, Kohl’s and Walmart, Muldrow said about 40 percent of the shoppers were from Lee County, based on license plates in the parking lots during the survey.
“This means Barnes Crossing is doing a lot of heavy lifting,” Muldrow said. “You are not the regional draw that Barnes Crossing is. That’s an opportunity because you have an engine drawing in people. They are already here. Get them to make the extra effort to drive the three miles to downtown.”
Muldrow suggested that downtown Tupelo review its marketing efforts. He also said Tupelo, especially downtown Tupelo, needs better signage, including directions. The signs should point visitors to high-interest destinations in Tupelo.
For example, signs could be placed downtown to direct visitors to Elvis Presley’s birthplace, The Mall at Barnes Crossing and the Tupelo Buffalo Park.
Signs in the Barnes Crossing district, he said, could direct people to destinations such as the BancorpSouth Arena, downtown and the birthplace.