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Mississippi Businesses Still Waiting For Recovery Signals

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Nov 2010 02:27pm | comments
Manager Chuck Ellis Smiles For A Picture Inside His Pearl Hardware Store

Business owners and managers in Mississippi are still waiting for a tipping point, signaling a major economic recovery. There are positive trends but MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports; it doesn't seem to be enough to inspire broad confidence.

At Sutherland's Hardware store in Pearl, customers wheel carts of lumber and other home repair supplies out the sliding glass doors. Since home construction has taken a nose dive, Do-it-yourself home repair has helped keep the store afloat.

“When the contracting business slows down, people start fixing up their houses and they houses they have. So our business has stayed pretty decent and it has stayed pretty level,” said Store manager Chuck Ellis.

He has been able to avoid layoffs, but a steady business hasn’t been enough to give him confidence that he can grow his work force or take risks.

“Well, I think this spring we will do a little bit of hiring but we are going to hold off till spring and we have just got to see what business is going to do,” Ellis said.

Just a block away, Ross Furniture Company has seen a similar change in customer spending. The store is stocked floor to ceiling with mid-to-high priced home furnishings, and store manager Michael English worries that continued economic weakness will dry up demand for those goods and force him to change his business model.

“We have kind of grown with the time. And we can change with the times. I may have to sell used furniture again. You know, times get bad. But I hope not,” English said.

Things are looking up and English is expecting his biggest November and December sales in years.

“The woman-folk, the ladies of the industry, they are going to get out there and spend that money. You can only hold these ladies back for so long,” English said.

He stresses that it is flexibility that has kept him in business so he too is watching, and waiting, to see which way the economy will go.

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Manager Chuck Ellis Smiles For A Picture Inside His Pearl Hardware Store


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