Retailers throughout Petal are choosing “Community Over Competition” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, banding together to support each other, brainstorm ideas to get through the current crisis, and look ahead to the situation’s inevitable abatement.
Mandy Wigley, owner of Southern Lace Boutique on Eastbrook Drive, recently spearheaded the effort by starting a Petal Retailers group on Facebook. In the short time since the page’s inception, Wigley has been joined by most of the locally-owned businesses in Petal, including but not limited to Grand Central Outfitters, Sweet Blossom, Carter’s Jewelry, McAlister’s Deli, Fox’s Pizza Den, Mom & Dad’s Country Cooking and Merle Norman.
“I’ve always wanted to do (something like this), but this seemed like a good time to start it, because we’re all going to need each other,” Wigley said. “It’s just to kind of stay on the same page with what we decide to do as a community, and to just put the competition aside and just help each other make decisions, support each other and get through it.
“We’ve been talking about how sales have affected us, and how we did today, and what are we going to do next week. We’re coming to each other for advice and support.”
When the page first started, discussion was mostly based around methods for keeping stores clean, including setting up hand sanitizer stations at several locations.
As tighter restrictions on the service industry have been imposed, however, several retailers made the decisions to close their storefronts and serve their customers in other ways.
“You don’t want to say ‘I don’t want to have business coming in,’ but there were times when we had more than 10 people in the store,” Wigley said. “We just felt like it was our responsibility to close the storefront and go to strictly online, just to protect ourselves, our staff and our customers. Several us of have closed the store temporarily, as bad as that’s going to hurt us, for the safety of the community.”
As more businesses have joined the page, retailers have decided to forego competition and shop at each other’s stores in any way possible to support the Peal business community.
“It’s amazing to me – just all of us finally saying, no matter if you’re my competitor, we’re going to support each other,” Wigley said. “Me and (a couple of other retailers) all went and shopped at each other’s stores one day and posted it to our pages, and we’ve put all our differences aside.
“It’s about local and it’s about Petal, and it’s just been a major difference. And I’ve noticed a huge response from the community in joining us in that.”