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Baldwyn Pop-Up Market Days: The goal is to bring more traffic, business to downtown


By Dennis Seid

Daily Journal


BALDWYN – For the past 10 years, Lori Tucker has been director of the Baldwyn Main Street Chamber, leading the charge to revitalize the area.


Two years ago, she was recognized as the “Outstanding Main Street Director” of the year of the 52-member Mississippi Main Street Association for her continuing efforts to rejuvenate the heart of the city.


Her latest move is introducing “Pop-Up Market Days,” which will be held every third Saturday from March through June and perhaps this fall after a brief summer break.


“We see the ‘Pop-Up Market’ as an economic development tool, to drive traffic to Baldwyn, and we’re also hoping it brings in guests who haven’t been to downtown to experience what we have,” Tucker said.


The monthly markets will be held in the parking lot of the former Regions Bank branch on Main Street, where there’s enough room for 20 vendors to set up shop. Attendees can expect to see a variety of crafts, baked goods, jams and jellies, fresh produce (when available), coffees, pottery, paintings and more, and music will be provided as well.

Baldwyn Main Street Chamber charges a $10 fee for vendors and provides a table for the 10-foot by 10-foot space. There’s no fee to shop the market.


“We’re trying to come up with that little different niche,” Tucker said. “Like many small towns around here, we have a lot of people who go to shop and eat in Tupelo, and we want to get more of them to spend their money here.”


With sales tax collections providing the bulk of general fund money to operate a city, it’s important for small towns to keep as much money “at home” to help pay for service, from law enforcement, fire protection to street maintenance.


For fiscal year 2017, Baldwyn’s sales tax collections totaled more than $544,000 – the same it collected 13 years earlier. But a closer look into the figures shows that collections peaked in 2008 – just as the recession was settling in – at more than $618,000. After bottoming out in 2010 at $515,000, sales tax collections have been on a roller coaster since, jumping as high as $552,000 in 2013 before dropping the next two years, then rising again the next two years.


Tucker has been Baldwyn Main Street Chamber director since 2008 and has overseen the creation of a four-block historic district that is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Several buildings have been restored to their historic appearances using federal and state tax credits, and other buildings are being renovated to make way for additional businesses and apartments.


The revitalization efforts are ongoing, with hopes of increasing shopping and eating destinations for all.


“We want to keep our local dollars here, but also bring in new dollars,” Tucker said.


That’s fine, as far as Betty “JoJo” Steward is concerned. She and her husband moved to Baldwyn in July from the Delta. The retirees were looking for a place to sell some of their collectibles gathered through the years, but wound up renting a downtown store front of their own.


Pop and JoJo’s Attic, etc. is the name of their indoor vendors market. The Stewards rent space to other sellers who offer a variety of new, vintage and handmade items.


“Everybody we’ve met so far has been very nice,” Steward said. “It seems that the downtown has been working hard to revitalize the area, although I really don’t have anything to compare it to. But we’ve seen customers from Booneviile, Ripley, Pontotoc and west Alabama. We need to let more people know that Baldwyn is just right off Highway 45.”


Peggy Grice has owned a beauty salon on Main Street for more than 20 years, and was shopping recently in a fellow downtown business, Three Eleven. She, too, appreciates the efforts being made to bring more traffic to the area and hopes it will help bring additional businesses.


“We could use a really nice restaurant, as well as a big department store,” she said. “And a motel or hotel of some kind to get people to stay here longer, too, would be good.”


But those large plans will come only after the success of smaller plans succeeding like the pop-up markets.


The first will be March 17, and it’s completely filled. It will be open from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. A few spots remain for the April to June markets, however. Because of the heat of summer, no markets will be held in July and August.


Depending on the turnout at the upcoming markets, Tucker said the events could return in September.


“Once we see that it can grow, we’ll open it back then and run though December,” she said.


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