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|Downtown benefits from fuel prices|
With gas prices nearing stratospheric levels, many national retailers have begun reporting a shrinking profit margin.
But higher gas prices have meant big business for some retailers in Winnsboro's downtown historic district. Wade Walley, the owner of Every Occasion, said this summer has been "really good" for business.
"We'll have been here 20 years in October and I've had one of the better summers I've had," said Walley. "It's been a very good summer."
Walley said he's seen many new customers from areas such as Tensas Parish, where residents typically would drive to Monroe, Vicksburg or Natchez to shop.
Now, Walley said, they're beginning to come to Winnsboro because it's closer and they can save money on gas.
"We're able to provide them with goods and services a lot closer to home," Walley said. "So they're coming here even more."
Winnsboro Main Street Manager Kay LaFrance-Knight said higher gas prices have people looking for alternative sources for commerce.
"Gas prices do give a new meaning to shop at home," LaFrance-Knight said. "People are starting to discover there are all manner of goods and services available right here."
Recent business turnover downtown is also a good indicator of a burgeoning economy downtown, according to LaFrance-Knight.
Though two businesses have moved out of the downtown area, two new businesses are moving in.
"Businesses come and go," LaFrance-Knight said. "It's just the nature of the beast."
Low sales or profits aren't the only reason businesses close, LaFrance-Knight said.
"Sometimes people just want to go home," LaFrance-Knight said.
That was the case with Blacie's, a wedding dress shop, and Robinson's Photography. LaFrance-Knight noted both businesses are continuing to operate, just out of the proprietors' homes.
"It's important for people to remember and realize when businesses close downtown it's the nature of things, just as it is in a mall," LaFrance-Knight said.
She noted that shopping malls of all sizes experience business churn and said a mall is rarely the same from visit to visit.
"The same thing is true downtown," LaFrance-Knight said.
For Wade Walley, however, it's time to look ahead.
He's already begun unpacking and pricing more than thirty cases of Christmas merchandise and said he anticipates higher gas prices will drive even more shoppers into his store in the coming holiday season.
Though August is usually the hardest month for retailers, Walley said he's looking forward to the immediate future.
"Just getting ready for the big season now," Walley said.