By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal
COLUMBUS – After working with the Reed family for nearly five decades, Lex Jackson is retiring next year.
And with his retirement will be the closing of Reed’s department store in the city.
“Family businesses go through rhythms, and this is one of those,” said Jack Reed Jr., the president of the iconic department store that was founded in 1905 by his grandfather, R.W. Reed.
The Reed’s stores in Starkville and Tupelo are unaffected by the move and will remain open.
Reed said in Tupelo, there’s a fourth-generation family member waiting in the wings to lead the company, which is not the case in Columbus.
His nephew, Claude Clayton, opened Core Cycle & Outdoor two years ago as an extension of the family business.
“He’s in his mid-30s and this is a place to call home,” Reed said. “Forty-five years ago, that was the case with Lex Jackson. He’d always dreamed of being part-owner in the business.”
Jackson began working for Reed’s in 1970, and three years later, approached the family about partnering with them to open a store in Columbus.
The city had suffered some $15 million in flood damage when the Tombigbee River overflowed, and Leigh Mall was among the many buildings affected.
“When Leigh Mall flooded, they were looking to revitalize it.” Reed said. “My father and uncle decided to let Lex give it a shot, and it’s been a great success. Now he’s turning 70. He has a son and daughter, and his son is in Nashville employed and his daughter is in Knoxville. So he didn’t have anybody in next generation to pass along the store to.”
“It can be stressful,” Reed said.
And with the Reed family satisfied with running the stores in Tupelo and Starkville (where Jackson also is a partner), they were OK with Jackson retiring.
“To retire next year and to get his equity, he chose to close the store,” Reed said. “It’s one of those things, and if you don’t find someone to take over, then that’s one of the options. But we’re keeping Starkville open and there’s the three Tupelo stores. We’re still bullish on our area.”
The Columbus store won’t close until next spring, and it will be business as usual until then, Reed said.
“Lex has worked with us for 48 years. It’s been a great relationship, and we never had serious disagreement … So its full speed ahead this year. But it’s not really a going-out-of-business sale; it’s more of a retirement sale. This is more of a personal consideration than a business decision, and we respect his decision. He’s been like family to us for 48 years.”
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