Open for business: The Natchez Shop grand opening set for Sunday

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2016

NATCHEZ — A new retail area in the Natchez Visitor Center has scheduled its grand opening for Sunday.

The Natchez Shop, a combination of the previously existing city logo shop and Eastern National Bookstore, is set to open with a grand opening reception from 1 to 2 p.m.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond said the project is the result of collaboration between the National Park Service, its partner Eastern National Bookstore and the City of Natchez.

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“Eastern National Bookstore functions as an extension of the park’s interpretive themes,” Bond said. “So it’s not just books.”

Some items in The Natchez Shop provided by Eastern National include antique barber shop items related to the William Johnson House and nature-themed merchandise related to Natchez’ status as the southern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Other items in The Natchez Shop were previously sold at the city’s logo shop, such as items and souvenirs with the City of Natchez and Natchez Tricentennial logos.

“I am thrilled, it is a beautiful museum shop now,” Bond said. “What we had before was primarily a bookstore that was installed in ’98 that was pretty beige and boring, and the city had their own retail outlet that was crammed into a small space. The fixtures are now much more upscale and everything looks fantastic.”

The Visitor Reception Center’s front lobby has also been reorganized, Bond said, to improve the flow of visitors as they enjoy the historical exhibits the National Park Service provided for the lobby.

Natchez Public Works and Office of Inspections are doing most of the capital improvements to the city-owned visitor center, Community Development Director James Johnston said.

“We’re doing a lot of it in-house and contracting only what we can’t do,” Johnston said.

Some work is still ongoing at the visitor center, he said.

The remodel and new retail space is phase two of at least three phases before the visitor center update is complete, Bond said.

Phase one was the installation of the lobby exhibits in 2007, and phase three would be a redesign of the information kiosks occupied by local tourism tenants.

She said any future work is dependent on funding.

“We’d like to spruce it up and make it more user-friendly,” Bond said. “We’re the hospitality state, we should have people interacting. We have people that do a great job of that, we just need the décor to catch up with them.”