Many people living in DeSoto County today don't know what it was like in DeSoto county just a few years ago. You couldn't even purchase gasoline or groceries in DeSoto county. You had to travel to Memphis, where there were lots of choices but down here everything waited until something new would occur, the development of a true DeSoto county business community. That model was a long time in coming but believe it or not, it's here today. It is not a replacement for the Memphis economy, but a new economy built from the ground up, much like Japan and Germany were rebuilt after the 2nd World War. DeSoto County’s business community was built with new technology and new prospects but with the same strong desire to prosper and to help build a community worth raising your children in. It is still that way and even though many things have changed, the reality is, DeSoto County has become a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
Many that were around in the early sixties and even into the seventies remember Montesi’s grocery on Shelby, the opening of the Southland mall, Grants and Corondolet, Central Hardware, Scotty’s Hamburgers and Dales. Most of these businesses are gone but the spirit of supplying the needs of a growing community remains in today’s brave and confident entrepreneurs. If you are from the past era, an entrepreneur is someone that starts a business. The concepts are the same but the technology available to make it happen has changed some. If you could ask Dale Grahanm or one of the current risk takers in DeSoto County, is anything guaranteed? You would get the same answer. No, there are no guarantees in business, but those who are willing to take the chance, be courageous in the face of the challenges both then and now, and work tirelessly to create something worth selling, should be rewarded.
In the way that early DeSoto County business owners learned to compete with the unforeseen and unplanned-for occurrences, as well as entice local residents to “shop local” instead of going into Memphis, today’s business builders have to learn to be resilient. Running a business, like growing old, is not for “Sissies”. Toughness and a stubborn streak come in real handy, as well as the ability to go without sleep and even without pay, until the business can sustain itself. In marketing, this is called becoming brand relevant, the community’s go-to source for those goods and services. Back in the early days, before the development of WalMart and Home Depot, Kroger and other big-box retailers (BBR), the problem was to keep the business alive until folks knew who you were and what you did. Back then a more convenient location, good products and services as well as a great customer service reputation gave businesses an edge. Since the big-box, the by-pass and the low-price always myth, just keeping the doors open is the challenge today, along with recruiting and keeping the best personnel to be the business. Mom and pop shops don’t necessarily hate big-box retailers etc, they just want a fair chance to compete with and earn the business. This is where Love For Locals (LFL) comes in and all those that promote the new paradigm, Shop Local, because local business belongs to the local community. Local business does not just “belong” to our community, it actually multiplies the impact of a dollar spent. Some of the money spent at a BBR remains in the local community, but a dollar spent at a locally owned establishment, is estimated to be spent six more times, in the local community. How’s that for a motivation to “Shop Local”.
Stay tuned for future installments to this narrative. Love for Locals has a goal, to make all DeSoto County businesses “brand relevant” and to see the kind of prosperity available when courage, a hot market, and the best communication technology ever seen come together. We welcome your input, stories or photos of the old days, and stories of or visions of the bright future of DeSoto County business. Until next time… keep on marketing.