By: Joel Newman
As we celebrate Jackson’s Bicentennial, it is important to recognize and honor the role of small business in the growth of the community. In the early days itinerant peddlers traveled to downtown Jackson selling out of wagons and pushcarts, many setting up small stores—often referred to as the advent of the “mom and pop” shop. As retail thrived, services were required to shoe horses, repair wagons and farm equipment, make clothing and provide medical treatment. Small businesses responded to the need and provided encouragement for more people to come to Jackson seeking employment.
When larger companies began moving to Jackson, they provided employment opportunities. Their workers needed a place to shop and needed a wider range of services. In response, small businesses not only expanded, but it provided impetus for new businesses. Downtown Jackson was the place to be and there are folks who can remember many of the fine stores, some long gone, others still serving the community.
Nando Jones who sold everything from belts to bib overalls, Kisber’s Department Store who eventually moved to midtown, Robert’s Jewelers that now resides on Vann Drive, and Vineyards Gifts, the oldest retailer in Jackson located on North Highland. There are so many others.
As the economy grew and moved north and south, small business’s flexibility enabled them to easily move or expand. Their relationship with big business in a supporting effort made them the backbone of the economy. Jackson became the “Hub City,” and many manufacturing, distribution and service businesses moved to the area providing economic opportunity and growth. The demographic shift from downtown to midtown and currently to the north has encouraged entrepreneurs to take that “leap of faith” to open new retail and service businesses.
The development on Vann Drive and Thompson Farms is dotted with restaurants, banks, gyms, boutiques, walk in clinics, salons and so much more. The same can be said of movement to the South. Technical services, marketing and social media services, as well as small business resources, have become an integral part in the continued development of the small business community.
Financially, small business produces a large percentage of the tax dollars that are used to provide public services. As they move and expand, they impact property values and help to create new neighborhoods. Small business has created a reason to come to Jackson that extends beyond our local residents. Over the years, Jackson’s diversity and growth in retail, personal services and entertainment has attracted many people from the surrounding area and beyond. They come to shop, eat, attend a concert or just to have a family outing.
The growth and diversity of small business in Jackson over the past 200 years is incredible. As we look to the future, let us continue to support our local businesses as we pass it on to the next generation. It has served and impacted the community well and we look forward to the new innovations and growth in the years ahead.