Delta city seeing successful businesses

by

Published: January 11,2010

Tags: economic development, municipalities, retail

GREENWOOD — What do a restaurant serving doughnuts and tamales, a luxury hotel and a spa and a farmers’ market have in common?

Probably nothing, unless you are in Greenwood, where these businesses have found success.

And those are just a few.

Over the past decade a host of new restaurants and merchants have established themselves in Greenwood and have been a part of the growth of the retail and service market.

Other additions, such as the Joy Theatre, didn’t last, but with landmark businesses continuously opening there is only one word to sum up the change since the beginning of the 21st century — success.

Probably the biggest success story of the decade is The Alluvian.

Viking Range Corp. bought and revived the former Hotel Irving, and the new hotel brought historical value, modern beauty and people to Howard Street.

"My initial intent was to provide lodging for our dealers and distributors who we were coming to the Viking headquarters in Greenwood, but also to bring more in-depth exposure to the company and its products to other Greenwood visitors," said Fred Carl Jr., president of Viking Range Corp.

The formerly sleepy downtown area became a hotbed of activity catering to both local residents and out-of-town visitors.

"Once the hotel opened, there was a great deal of national publicity about it," said Carol Puckett, president of the Viking Hospitality Group. "People began traveling to Greenwood to stay at The Alluvian from all over the country."

The hotel thrived from the get-go and soon led to the addition of the The Alluvian Spa and Viking Cooking School.

"In conceiving The Alluvian, Carl had always planned to have a spa, but the success of The Alluvian and the need to offer our guests more amenities and give them a reason to stay in Greenwood longer brought it to the front burner," Puckett said.

The cooking school was also a main priority because of its ability to provide visitors with entertainment.

The training center where demonstration classes could be held was already in place, but schedule conflicts made it difficult to offer as much as the corporation wanted.

"We needed a true hands-on cooking school not only to give people a way to experience Viking, but to draw them to Greenwood," Puckett said.

The Viking Cooking School was an overnight success, and the new location across from The Alluvian with room for the retail store and spa provided an anchor for the redevelopment of the east side of Howard Street.

"When our company expanded our downtown corporate headquarters at the north end of Howard Street along the river it was highly successful from a downtown revitalization standpoint and in improving community pride," Carl said. "So it occurred to me that we might be able to increase this positive impact in the community."

Soon other businesses joined what is one of the "it" streets in the Delta town including Turnrow Book Co. in 2006.

When Jamie and Kelly Kornegay bought Dancing Rabbit Books, renamed it and moved it into a larger space across Howard Street, they had a vision for a first-rate bookstore.

"The Dancing Rabbit served the community by specially ordering books for people and offering a lot of used books," Jamie Kornegay said. "We wanted to change the inventory and name to be more in step with how downtown was changing."

Judging by the response from both the store’s visitors and the big-name authors it draws for readings and signings, the bookstore is another success.

Not just a bookstore, Turnrow has become more than the Kornegays expected by expanding into the realm of toys and a cafe.

"We didn’t expect it, but after the toy store downtown closed, we took up that mantle," Kornegay said. "We also captured the need for a cafe selling sandwiches, soups and salads after Mockingbird (Bakery) left that market."

It has been a central location for people who like to share ideas and words to come together.

"It is a place where people can come and see people they know," Kornegay said.

In the past decade, residents and visitors could also come and see businesses that they already knew that had made some major changes, including Smith & Co.

Howard Smith, owner of that business, came downtown in 2001 before all the big changes to reinvent his store.

"We needed more space when we found our place downtown," Smith said. "I liked the architecture, and we were in the process of changing our product mix."

Smith & Co., which once sold mainly hunting supplies, became a destination for men’s and women’s clothing.

As one of the first business owners to redo an old building downtown, Smith admits that the addition of the hotel and other businesses that followed has been fortunate for his store.

"We were out on Park, and there was too much congestion," Smith said. "They were talking about redoing The Alluvian then, so it was a bonus for us."

The bulk of the department store’s clientele comes from out of town, so downtown offered places to stay and things to do within walking distance for his customers.

Throughout the city, new businesses and reinventions of old businesses have sprouted up, especially in the culinary scene.

"Food is not just for nutrition anymore," Taylor Ricketts of Delta Bistro said. "It has really become a form of entertainment."

There is a lot of new entertainment in Greenwood if that is the case.

Delta Bistro was among those reinvented restaurants this decade.

Formerly the Delta Fresh Market, a combination restaurant and grocery store, it had too much going on.

"The restaurant part was always well received so we wanted to take what we knew the best and concentrate on it," Ricketts said.

The result was the Delta Bistro, which fit with the new downtown style.

Lee Abraham introduced the community to Honest Abe’s. More than a doughnut shop, the seven-day-a-week operation is home to a myriad of different cuisine, including its popular tamales.

"I had wanted to go into the doughnut business," Abraham said.

Instead of going in on a franchise deal and working with a popular doughnut brand, Abraham, with the help of other friends in the business, was able to perfect a recipe and opened his restaurant in 2005.

"When people come to a law office, even if it is for profit, they are still uptight," Abraham said. "In the doughnut business, everybody is happy about being there."

Other businesses people were happy about seeing during the 2000s include Flatland Grill and the reinvention and relocation of Giardina’s.

The 2006 addition of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in place of the old Wal-Mart has taken a toll on some local entities, but two local farmers’ markets have prospered despite the shadow of big business.

Fresh food grown locally became readily available through the Downtown Greenwood Farmers Market on Saturday mornings during the summer months and the permanent Old Time Farmers Market on U.S. 82.

Reducing both carbon footprints and preservatives, the two local markets bring both a sense of community and pride in healthier food.

"What is interesting is historically, people in this area have eaten vegetables from their gardens," Ricketts said. "More and more people are now going back to that."

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4 Responses to “Delta city seeing successful businesses”

  1. Sade Turnipseed Says:

    Just curious…how are the cultural arts being incorporated into the success of the businesses in Greenwood?

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  3. Mississippi Economic Development News Week of January 18, 2010 « Carol’s Weblog Says:

    […] While the Mississippi Delta still finds challenges in recruiting businesses in the retail and service market, the City of Greenwood has produced some winners. http://msbusiness.com/blog/2010/01/delta-city-seeing-successful-businesses/ […]

  4. wedding cars Says:

    I have heard alot about Greenwood and my customers told me about Greenwood. We are in fact orgainzing a trip with a bunch of business people from here from Sydney Australia.

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