Bustling downtown makes it feel like home

Published 7:50 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

I had the opportunity recently to take a walk downtown.

The motive for my stroll was a simple seasonal reason — Christmas shopping. For various reasons, I was late (as usual) with my holiday shopping and decided to avoid the traffic on Pemberton Square Boulevard, the mall and Walmart, and concentrate on visiting the local shops downtown to see if I could find something unusual and different for my wife.

I was, after a short search, able to find a parking space near the shops I wanted to visit, and enjoyed being able to walk and look through a store without having to sling elbows or waiting to find someone to wait on me.

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That customer service was one thing I enjoyed. Each store I walked into was busy, and I was in the “I’m just looking” mode, but there was always an employee in each store who walked up to me and asked if they could help me. I liked that; my impatience with poor service is legendary, and I’ve been known to turn around and walk out of a business because employees who walk right past me don’t stop to ask if they can help me.

After getting a gift for my wife, I decided to do something I hardly ever get to do in this business — play tourist. I took a walk up Washington Street almost to Jackson Street, just looking at the activity and the businesses and remembering how downtown looked when I came here almost eight years ago.

What a contrast!

When I came here and walked downtown, there were a lot of empty buildings — in fact, if I remember correctly, the empty buildings easily outnumbered the occupied ones.

That, I believe, is no longer the case. There seems to be more active businesses in buildings than empty ones, which is a good sign. There were more people on the street; people going into stores and just walking to get exercise.

During my hike, I stopped in a store looking for a pair of blue jean suspenders, since my pants have a problem staying up with a belt. The store had them and in multiple colors. I chose a plain single-colored pair, but I may go back and get the loud ones at a later date.

In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve had the chance to watch the downtown area grow and prosper, as it should.

There once was a time when a city’s downtown area was the center of business and commerce, but as people began moving further away and the shopping centers began to blossom, the downtown area began to fade and become ghost towns; shells of their former selves.

It’s good that our downtown area here is starting to make a come back with businesses and with residential areas that will help with its commercial growth, and with some drive it will grow even more.

I’m looking forward to more trips downtown in the future; it makes it easier to say I’m home.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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