I used to love going to my grandfather’s store in a small town in northwest Alabama.
It had a little bit of everything – from clothes to hardware to toys. I was a small child back then. I particularly loved the toys.
And you know grandfathers, I’d typically leave with just what I wanted.
Growing up outside a small town, “going to town” really meant something. It was the thing to do.
I grew up 12 miles out of town – definitely in the country – and I loved it. But as a child, I anxiously awaited “going to town.”
We shopped locally – period – for clothes, for groceries, for cars, for hammers, for nails, for basketballs and baseballs – for everything. We bought our gas at the local stations.
As a teen (in the ’70s), I turned into being fashionable, and I loved the clothing stores in downtown Hamilton, Ala. They helped me look my best, and of course, as my kids say when they see those old photos, I needed all the help I could get.
The families owning and operating the downtown businesses were our friends, our neighbors. I went to school with their kids and so on and so forth.
And most of all, they gave me that personal service, that attention down to the finest detail.
I’ve heard story after story about downtown Holly Springs in days gone by – about all the thriving businesses, all the activities, all the fun.
Perhaps downtowns won’t ever be like they used to be, but at the same time, it’s good to see long-established, family-owned businesses still doing well in the downtown areas of Marshall County.
Plus, new ones are joining the downtown push, too.
Old buildings are being brought back to life. Our history is being preserved.
Local folks are investing in their hometowns, and that’s a huge plus. And it includes young people, either moving back home or already here. That’s encouraging indeed.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new fast food restaurant in Holly Springs.
The company representatives emphasized the importance of small towns and their emphasis on community and working with local schools and getting involved in the communities they serve.
I like those words, and it’s nice to hear that committment to Holly Springs.
Many chain businesses in our county have likewise made that commitment. The managers and the employees give back to the communities.
As in most cities along interstate highways, growth takes place in the locations nearest to those routes. And we welcome that growth.
But the backbone of any small town is the downtown.
It’s great seeing new businesses popping up in downtown Holly Springs and downtown Byhalia – just to name a couple of the areas.
And it’s great seeing the anchors for so many years in the downtowns continuing to serve our communities.
Looking around, the investment in our downtown areas seems to be increasing. And no doubt about it, that’s a positive that we need to boast about. And a positive that we need to continue to build on.
Get involved in your hometown. Help build better communities. Contact the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce (662-838-8127) or the Holly Springs Main Street Chamber (662-252-2943).