Southern Designs changing plans for storefronts, coffee house at former Kmart

Published 2:34 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

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NATCHEZ — When Vidalia’s Southern Designs announced its expansion to the former Kmart building in Natchez in June 2021, their announcement included plans to build a shopping area inspired by the New Orleans French Quarter in the lot beside the building. Those plans have since changed, CEO Tance Hughes said.

Due to parking concerns, Southern Designs is no longer planning to build two or three new buildings in front of the facility, Hughes said. Instead, they are working on a plan to develop retail space at the front inside portion of the Kmart building to make it more customer-friendly. This entails adding a PJ’s Coffee to the front left side of the building and leasing space to other businesses, he said.

“A lot of that is getting close to where hopefully we can start construction in the next couple of months,” Hughes said.

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He added the amount of time it would take for the storefront development would depend on the businesses that choose to locate there.

“I’ve had a lot of people call about space. There is no specific plan for the layout,” he said. “We want to customize it to their needs. It’s similar to how they’re redeveloping the front of the mall built to suit their businesses.”

Hughes said Southern Designs continues to maintain its operation in Vidalia, Louisiana.

“I can’t promise that we won’t consolidate to one building sometime in the future, but that is not in our immediate plan,” he said.

Southern Designs’ main product is laser-cut and powder-coated metal décor, laser-cut wood décor and custom-printed items for their brands Metal Unlimited, CutMaps and Carter + Main.

Their expansion to Natchez is just under a $2.5 million investment creating 30 additional jobs.

Hughes said Southern Designs is also working to launch a new website which will be an online retail space similar to Etsy for all of Southern Design’s brands—Metal Unlimited, CutMaps and Carter + Main—plus some other personalized products from other businesses.

“The new website would be a selling point for all of those products and we’ll stock and fulfill those orders here (in Natchez),” Hughes said.