Local businesses bring new life to the Vicksburg Commons shopping center

Published 6:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2022

What was once a nearly vacant facility is becoming a hub for local business owners capitalizing on opportunities offered at Vicksburg Commons.

Willena Dotson is no stranger to the area. For 26 years she served as the manager at Hanes Brand Inc. when the shopping center was known as the Outlets of Vicksburg. But last year, she made the leap into entrepreneurship at the Vicksburg Commons and was the first of more than 17 new businesses operating or set to open.

Location was one of the main reasons Dotson said she decided to open her business, Home Accessories & More at the Vicksburg Commons.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

She said it was also due to encouragement given to her by the late Margaret Gilmer.

“I have known Margaret for 30 years and she always tried to get me to put my business out here. I had it in other places,” Dotson said.

But in May of last year, Dotson said, she decided to come out to the Vicksburg Commons.

“I decided if I could make Hanes work when everything else closed, and in this economy, I could make my own business work. So, with my retirement, I just decided this is what I wanted to do,” she said.

Dotson began purchasing merchandise for her business in 2019, housing it in storage facilities.

Purchasing along the way allowed her to open Home Accessories & More debt-free, she said.

Filled with a variety of beautiful decorating pieces that include lamps, pillows, candles, sofa tables and art, shoppers will have no problem finding beautiful items for their homes.

Larry Walker, an employee for the city of Vicksburg’s cable television station VTV and owner of Skywalker Photography, has opened the newest business at the Vicksburg Commons.

Capitalizing on his photography background and expertise, Walker’s newest endeavor, Picture This Photography & Selfie Studio, is the first of its kind in Vicksburg.

With vignettes lining the walls of what some would call a multipurpose studio, Walker has created a business where both the old and young can take their own “selfie” pictures against a plethora of backdrops.

He also has an area for those interested in making TikTok videos.

“This is a place where people can come and be their own photographer,” Walker said. “We have got ring lights set up and we allow the customer to be their own photographer and do what they do best, which is take selfies.”

There are 12 different vignettes or “rooms,” set up which include a flower wall, a room with neon colors and black lights and a “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” backdrop.

Walker even has one space he designed using an antique clawfoot tub with a bubble machine nearby.

Although Walker saw a similar business while on vacation, he said he wanted to put his “own style” on Picture This Photography & Selfie Studio.

“I wanted to make the room what I saw in my head and bring some of my creativity to life,” he said.

The selfie studio, which also has a space where Walker operates Skywalker Photography, will not always have the same backdrops, he said.

“We will always have something new going on,” he said, especially providing for the change of seasons and holidays.

Currently, a Valentine’s Day-inspired theme is set up and Walker is also readying a space for prom pictures.

Picture This Photography & Selfie Studio is a “social media-driven” business, Walker said, making way for unique selfie images and the next TikTok stars.

The facility can also be rented on Sundays for parties.

Home Accessories & More is located in suite 106 at the Vicksburg Commons and Picture This Photography & Selfie Studio is in suite 124.

Other businesses located in the Vicksburg Commons include:

Suite 101 –Unique Sisters Boutique
Suite 102 – Ambition Scrubs & Health
Suite 103 – Timeless Eventz Suite
Suite 105 – Meci Kouture & Unique Graphic Designs

Suite 107 – Rejuvenating Fitness Personal Training
Suite 109 – Vape Haven
Suite 110 – iDoctor (opening soon)
Suite 112 A – Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Suite 112 B&C – Billy’s Italian Restaurant
Suite 113/114 – Muddy Magnolias Marketplace
Suite 115 – HANES
Suite 121 – Hall’s Flowers, Gifts & Bakery
Suite 123 – Palmers Seafood (opening soon)
Suite 126 – Grand River Clothing (opening soon)

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart