Now that the holiday season is here, local merchants are hoping that shoppers will keep them in mind first before they head out of town for that perfect gift.
Keepsakes Jewelry and Gifts co-owner David Judkins, along with his wife, Jane Judkins, said he expects an influx of customers at 7203 Sheridan Road, Suite B, in White Hall leading up to Christmas.
“Advertising is important to all businesses, whether large or small,” said Judkins, who advertises in both the Journal and Pine Bluff Commercial. “You have to advertise to survive.”
Judkins said he is offering many deals throughout the holiday gift-giving season.
“Many people shop at malls and they get tired of waiting in lines,” Judkins said.
Donna Dial is a sales consultant at South Arkansas Business Solutions in Pine Bluff and the membership chairman of the Pine Bluff Small Business Association. She is also sharing the same message of shopping locally because it helps the county’s residents.
“We express that when they spend one dollar, .70 cents stays in the local economy,” Dial said. “The only way to improve Pine Bluff is to spend locally so we can get revenue from tax dollars. I was born and bred in Pine Bluff.”
Pine Bluff residents save time and gasoline money by not driving 45 miles one way to Little Rock, Dial said. She encourages Pine Bluff and White Hall residents to think before they spend.
“I think a lot needs to start with city officials,” Dial said. “We’ve seen an improvement yet there is more work to be done.”
Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Nancy McNew said the chamber of commerce started a campaign called Totally Locally Jefferson County. It came into existence through a small business relations committee and a local graphic designer drew the logo associated with the campaign.
“We implemented the campaign throughout the year with an e-blast,” McNew said. “We encourage our members to use the #TotallyLocallyJC. Our campaign is about creating awareness. It is evolving. We are looking for individuals to join the cause. With social media, the impact is extraordinary.”
Edward Haddock, the Small Business Association’s Arkansas District Director, said he always encourages people to think about shopping local first.
“As the voice for our nation’s entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrates all small businesses on a daily basis,” Haddock wrote in a press release. “When our small businesses do well, our communities do too.”
Howard Hurst is the president of Shepherd Tipton and Hurst Florist & Greenhouses at 910 West 29th Ave. in Pine Bluff and is offering many sales geared toward holiday shoppers.
“We are all about shopping locally,” Hurst said. “Every time you buy something, you vote with your dollars. Local people pay for their community through sales tax. It is critical to the success of the community. We sell through the Internet and pay sales taxes on those transactions. I advocate for paying your fair share of sales tax. The relationships in towns are critical. It is a huge deal. Pine Bluff is a close-knit community and they really patronize their businesses. It’s a traditional old-school town. It’s wonderful.”
Hurst is gearing up for a busy weekend of sales.
“In terms of Christmas, we are a complete Christmas store full of wreaths and lights,” he said. “We will still be busy with Christmas next week with all kinds of holiday decor.”
Tipton and Hurst was founded in 1886 by his grandfather. Hurst purchased Shepherd Florist and Greenhouses in 2017. He said he has been friends with John Shepard since their childhood. Hurst said his Pine Bluff connections run deep.
“My wife is a Pine Bluff High graduate and my sister has lived in Pine Bluff for 40 years,” Hurst said. “All the local connections are huge.”
Pope Furniture co-owner Larry Miller is celebrating the store’s 93rd year in business on Jan. 2, 2018. The store is located at 1800 East Harding Ave. in Pine Bluff.
“We are making a living in Pine Bluff,” Miller said. “We have earned our reputation through great customer service. Pine Bluff rewards us by shopping at Pope. My sons are fourth generation of operating the John Pope Furniture Company.”
Bill Brumett is the owner of Brumett Agency and the vice president of the Pine Bluff Small Business Association in Dollarway. He tells Pine Bluff residents to shop in (this area) every day “because it adds to our economy and tax base and it adds to our revenue.”
“We have spoken at civic clubs, networked with small businesses to use our local vendors,” Brumett said. “We focus on education. Many people shop out of town because they do not realize we have those services (here).”