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Fred’s closings part of a ‘retail apocalypse.’



Fred’s closures point to severe retail sector weakness across the nation. Some business analysts call it a retail apocalypse.

On Friday, Memphis-based discounter Fred’s announced it will close another 129 stores across the South, bringing its total store closures this year to 441. With only 80 stores left, things are looking grim for the chain.

Fred’s Vicksburg store closed July 6, 2019. It never appeared on any of the chain’s closure announcements.

This latest round of closures includes another 35 stores in Mississippi leaving only nine stores open in the state. (See the list at the end of this article.) Closures elsewhere include 19 stores in Tennessee, 16 in Arkansas, 14 in Georgia, 13 in Arkansas and 12 in Louisiana.

The company says its remaining pharmacies will stay open. Fred’s said in a statement that it would hold “inventory clearance sales across all stores in an effort to refocus its product mix, simplify its store portfolio and repay debt.”

The fate of Fred’s has been uncertain since the company’s plans to merge with pharmacy giants Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid collapsed in late June 2017 due to federal anti-trust concerns, Business Insider reports. In the wake of that collapsed deal, Fred’s had no alternative plan for growth.

“While it is never easy to make decisions that impact our valued employees and customers, this initiative represents another necessary step in our continued efforts to stabilize our business by simplifying our store portfolio and product assortment,” Fred’s CEO Joseph Anto said in a statement.

At the beginning of this year, experts saw a continuation of closures in the retail space that began several years ago. Business Insider reported that retailers closed a record 102 million square feet of store space in 2017, then smashed that record in 2018 by closing another 155 million square feet, according to estimates by the commercial real-estate firm CoStar Group.

Along with Fred’s, which had 568 stores in 15 states as of Feb. 2, the list of closures expected at the beginning of the year was more than 7,500 stores long. It has since ballooned to more than 12,000 stores in recent reports. Closures include all of Payless ShoeSource’s 2,500 stores, 850 Gymboree stores, 650- Dress Barn stores and many more.

Latest Fred’s stores closing in Mississippi

  1. Baldwyn: 441 N Fourth St.
  2. Bay Springs: 2675 Hwy 15
  3. Belzoni: 520 North Hayden St.
  4. Bruce: 403 W. Calhoun St.
  5. Canton: 229 North Union
  6. Carthage: 300 South Pearle St.
  7. Centreville: 456 Hwy 24
  8. Charleston: 304 W Main St.
  9. Clarksdale: 236 Desoto Ave
  10. Collins: 1211 South Fir Ave
  11. Dekalb: 14916 Sr-16
  12. Eupora: 300 Sr-9
  13. Flora: 101 Mansker Dr.
  14. Fulton: 1409 Adams St.
  15. Greenwood: 2616 Hwy 82 E.
  16. Iuka: 615 Hwy 25 South
  17. Jackson Old Canton: 6230 Old Canton Rd
  18. Leakesville: 951 Main St.
  19. Louisvillle: 502 South Church
  20. Marks: 1039 Martin Luther King Dr.
  21. McComb: 1618 Delaware Ave
  22. Mendenhall: 3050 Simpson, Hwy 13
  23. Monticello: 1509 Broad St. W.
  24. Natchez: 31 Sgt Prentiss Dr.
  25. New Albany: 126 W. Main St.
  26. Poplarville: 1388 South Main St.
  27. Prentiss: 1635 Columbia Ave
  28. Purvis: 509 Hwy 589
  29. Saltillo: 111 Willow Brook Dr.
  30. Southaven: 710 Church Road
  31. Southaven: 2110 Goodman Road E.
  32. Sumrall: 4233 Rocky Branch Road
  33. Tunica: 1038 Us 61
  34. Water Valley: 409 Duncan St.
  35. Winona: 603 Middleton Rd

Mississippi stores remaining open for now:

  1. Batesville: 475 Hwy. 6 E.
  2. Booneville: 504 N. 2nd St.
  3. Byhalia: 15 E. Stonewall Rd.
  4. Kosciusko: 340 Sr-12
  5. Morton: 5186 Hwy. 80 E.
  6. Nettleton: 7122 Will Robbins Hwy.
  7. Olive Branch: 7105 Cockrum St.
  8. Pontotoc: 170 Highway 15 N.
  9. Ripley: 706 City Ave. N.

You can see the full list of Fred’s closures announced Friday here.


Trustmark donates $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA



Left to Right: Christian Easterling, Mary Ellen Montgomery, Isiah Young, Victoria Young, Oliver Love (photo courtesy Phillip Doiron)

Trustmark Bank has donated $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA for its capital campaign which included a building expansion.

Trustmark announced the donation Wednesday on its Facebook page.

‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign…

Posted by Trustmark on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

“‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign efforts to better serve the Vicksburg community, and we are thankful to our friends at the Y for all they do!” the bank wrote.

In 2018, the YMCA launched a $4 million expansion campaign which included building a new basketball gym and adding a new fitness area. CEO Phillip Doiron said it also included a new play area for children.

Trustmark has now donated a total of $75,000 to the YMCA for the expansion. The money will go to good use in helping the Y better serve the community.

The YMCA has been in its Clay Street location since 2002 when it relocated from downtown Vicksburg. Most of the construction is complete, and an indoor playground will be added shortly thanks to community donations such as those from Trustmark Bank.

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Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp



Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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Fun Lanes bowling alley has reopened



(photo by David Day)

Fun Lanes bowling alley in the Uptown Vicksburg mall has reopened.

The bowling alley closed earlier this year after former General Manager Patrick Belden unexpectedly died as a result of a car crash. While the bowling alley has the same owners, they have made some improvements. A statement on the Uptown Vicksburg Facebook page explained:

“Fun Lanes Bowling has made renovations and is now under new management. Fun Lanes wants to let everyone know that they have a renewed goal of being a family-friendly, safe location for the people of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to come out and enjoy the sport of bowling. Fun Lanes at Uptown Vicksburg, come on out and check us out. You will be glad you did.”

(photo by David Day)

The bowling alley had become a hotspot for police activity due to the large crowds that gathered there for late-night, weekend DJ parties. While the parties were a major success and there were almost no problems reported inside the bowling alley, the large crowds outside sometimes became disruptive.

Tony Lemus, Fun Lanes acting general manager (photo by David Day)

“We are committed to a family friendly atmosphere and look forward to providing Vicksburg with a great, fun and family friendly atmosphere” said acting General Manager Tony Lemus.

The hours of operation have changed. Fun Lanes is now open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m.

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