Another meeting held on business leakage to surrounding communities

Published 2:21 pm Thursday, October 16, 2008

A recent study states that a number of Pearl River County residents shop in areas outside of Picayune, and there could be more than a just few reasons for going out of town to shop.

Most of those reasons revolve around the limited number of services and stores available in the City of Picayune. Such stores include a good shoe store, a place to buy nice suits, office supplies, liquor, and nice restaurants that offer more than just Chinese, Mexican, seafood or fast food.

That study, conducted by ArnettMuldrow and presented to local businesses months ago, found that about $5 million in liquor sales are leaked out of the county. Also, about $19 million in leakage is attributed to people going out of town to patronize sit-down restaurants, the study states. Other areas of leakage included, sporting goods, clothes, furniture and jewelry. As a result, sales taxes from those sales are collected by areas with stores that carry those goods or offer those services.

A meeting held at city hall Tuesday morning with city officials and local business leaders aimed to collect information on how to keep tax dollars from leaking out into those other areas.

Pearl River County residents who make visits to surrounding areas such as Slidell, La., may end up doing their shopping there after they have a good time, said local business owner Chris Thompson. At times, people will go to a nice restaurant, such as Chili’s, Outback or Copeland’s, and while they are out and about, they may decide to do some of their shopping.

Those restaurants all offer liquor on their menu.

Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said while he does not drink liquor, he likes to eat at those restaurants.

Some people who also make the trip to Slidell to eat at those restaurants might also make the most of that trip and buy gas, see a movie or even go to Wal-Mart, Thompson said.

Miller said some people may even go grocery shopping while in Slidell.

However, until liquor is legalized in the dry county of Pearl River, those restaurants most likely will not build in Picayune. Thompson suggests that the city could attempt to attract businesses that only sell beer, which is legal in the city limits. He said he has heard of O’Charley’s restaurant chain making exceptions and setting up shop where beer is the only alcoholic beverage available.

Other businesses, such as a place to purchase suits and nice dress clothes for men, also are non-existent in Picayune, council member Leavern Guy said. Thompson said he has a hard time finding good shoes for his kids in Picayune. The most common place he can find shoes locally does not carry high quality items and most of the time, the shoes wear out in a matter of weeks.

Thompson, who owns Carter’s Diamond Jewelry, also thinks Picayune would benefit from an office supply store.

Advertising in Picayune apparently is difficult, Thompson said. He thinks it might be a reason that so many businesses are closing or struggling.

Dr. Debbie Moore suggests looking into color advertisements that have bright images. To cover the cost of color advertising,

Thompson suggested getting ten businesses to pitch in and purchase a large color ad.

Another meeting to toss around ideas to stop the leakage will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3, in the city council’s chambers. The public, both those in the business sector and those who are their customers or potential customers, is invited attend and to share ideas. Those ideas will be collected and presented to the city council at one of its meetings in November.