Holiday sacrifice pays big

Published 12:14 am Friday, July 6, 2007

NATCHEZ — Sacrificing a holiday paid off literally for a number of downtown businesses Wednesday.

The Natchez Downtown Development Association encouraged businesses to open on the Fourth of July, and most saw a successful day.

“I think it was a good first effort,” NDDA Board President Bill Furlow said Thursday. “A number of people came into our shop (Natchez Coffee Company) clearly trying to be supportive of downtown’s effort. I thought that was great because it shows people are beginning to adopt a tourism town mentality.”

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If the NDDA organized another stay-open day on a holiday, they would likely start advertising the fact a little earlier, he said.

“We literally just came up with the idea less than a month before the Fourth of July,” Furlow said.

Restaurants especially saw business jump Wednesday, NDDA board member and owner of South Union Interiors Kevin Miers said.

“I went around and collected the give-away boxes (Thursday),” Miers said. Retailers either did well or OK, but the restaurants really cleaned up. Retailers were attracting people in general, and (people) had to eat. It’s a domino affect.”

One of those restaurants was newly opened Breaud’s Seafood and Steak on Main Street.

“It was great. Really good. Darn good,” owner Glenn Breaud said. “We were slammed all day, all the way until right before the fireworks. We’ll definitely do it again next year.”

The Marketplace Café has always been open on the Fourth, owner Mike Byrne said, and it’s always busy on Independence Day. But this year was better than most.

More downtown businesses remaining open “doesn’t hurt,” Byrne said. “There are more things to do downtown, and it’s better for everybody.”

It was good for business at One-of-a-Kind Gifts, too, owner Mary Lees Wilson said.

“I think if we had been open without the promotion, we wouldn’t have been nearly as busy,” she said. “We’re just mom-and-pop folks. We’re not the big box stores, so it costs to stay open, and we need (customers’) support, and we appreciate the support.”

Not every business saw a boom on the mid-week holiday.

“We are more of a destination shop, not an impulse buy,” Natchez Needle Arts manager Cynthia Whittington said. “I don’t know if being open on the Fourth is the best thing. It’s always the same — people come the day before and the day after (holidays).”

Customers weren’t flocking into The Pampered Sole, either, but Manager Karen Linton was optimistic.

“I think we’d be willing to do it again next year, but (NDDA) needs to do better advertising,” Linton said.

Linton said the store would do its part again to help draw customers downtown on a holiday.

“I really believe Natchez is on the verge of becoming a tourism Mecca,” she said.