Downtown FAM Jam Set for October 1

Over the past few years, the success of the Petal Downtown FAM Jam has seen that initiative grow from a once-a-year event to twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall.

The 2022 fall edition of FAM Jam – short for Food, Art and Music – will be held from 4-7 p.m. October 1 on South Main Street, near Regions Bank and Grand Central Outfitters. The family-friendly event, which is put on by the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, is free and open to the public.

“The chamber just wants to reinforce the connections in our community,” said Valerie Wilson, executive director of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want to bring people downtown, to help support local businesses and to give our families a better quality of life.”

Downtown FAM Jam will feature local artists, craftsmen and food vendors, as well as musical entertainment by 18 Miles.

“(18 Miles is) well-received, and they bring a pretty large fan base with them when they come,” Wilson said.

In addition to the food and music, the free event also will feature children’s activities, such as fun play areas and games.

“We’ll have arts and crafts, information booths,” Wilson said. “The special activities for the children will be presented by Cavalry Baptist Church of Petal.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and stay throughout the duration of the FAM Jam.

To ensure safety, Main Street will be closed between Regions Bank and Panther Credit during the event. Shoppers will still be able to visit any businesses that are regularly open along that thoroughfare.

“It will definitely be a street event, where people can cross the street safely and enjoy the vendors and participate in lots of fun,” Wilson said. “It’s family friendly, whether you’re in your 80s and enjoy the crafts and walking around, or your little on is enjoying the (games),”

“There’s something for everybody.”

Given the success of FAM Jam, it’s a possibility the event may soon be hosted even more than twice a year.

“Dependent on crowd attendance, we may do it more often,” Wilson said. “But right now, we feel that gives our vendors a great opportunity to sell their products, and we will respond to demand if it happens.

“If people really demand it, we can definitely make more events like it happen.”

Photos: Cayla Burns

By: Haskel Burns

Add a Little Savvy to your life

About 20 years ago, Kimberly and Heather Millsteads’ mother had a dream of opening a business in the shopping center on Mississippi 42 in Petal.
That idea was put off for a little while because of the high price of real estate at the time, but the two sisters have now made that idea a reality with Savvy Sisters, a gift shop located at 1229 Mississippi 42, behind Leatha’s Barbeque. Kimberly and Heather started on the process back in 2017, when they began making their own crafts to sell at locations such as Grand Central Outfitters in Petal and Live at Five at Town Square Park in Hattiesburg.
Before long, that concept began to grow, at which point the sisters opened their storefront.
Kimberly recently took some time over the phone to discuss the benefits of opening a business in Petal, as well as being a member of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce.

Q: Tell us a little about how you guys got started when you opened the storefront.
A: We had gotten a boost at Painted Treasures (in Petal), and then that became Treasure Cove. And then we branched out a little bit. We started getting some handbags and things, and we thought we might could open a storefront, and it’s kind of grown from there. So it’s taken us almost 20 years (since our mom had the idea) to get here, but we’ve (realized) our goal. We have our own little shop in the shopping center that she had wanted all those years ago.

Q: What kind of offerings do you have at the store?
A: We’re primarily a gift shop. We’ve got candles and handbags, and we have a baby section with diaper bags and bibs and things there. We’ve got a section that has some artist prints, and we have some olivewood from Germany, and some of the candles are from Mississippi Candle Company that’s made locally on the coast. We offer some pillows that are from a company in Mississippi that make those.

Q: What has the reception been like from the Petal community since you opened your storefront?
A: I’d say it’s been pretty good. We had a little bit of a slow summer, but Mother’s Day weekend was a really big sell-out for us; we sold a bunch of inventory. We’ve had a lot of repeat customers, so that’s really been a great thing. Our goal is to maybe keep people from having to go to Hattiesburg to get gifts for somebody, or if they just want to do a little bit of shopping for themselves. We do offer free gift wrapping, and during the holidays we do want to offer gift wrapping for anybody that may want to bring their gifts, to drop them off to be wrapped, as a service to the community.

Q: Savvy Sisters joined the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce back in July. What kind of benefits have you seen from that, and would you recommend that measure to other businesses as well?
A: It took us a little while to join, because starting out, everything just goes a little slow. Absolutely (I would recommend it). Just doing our ribbon cutting and getting our name in their newsletter that goes out to all the area businesses, I think that’s been beneficial. We’ve had some people that saw the sticker posted on the door and said “Oh, y’all are members of the chamber.” So I do think it’s beneficial. We plan to utilize their opportunities for advertising as much as possible. We want to do Shop Petal First; I’ve already spoke with (chamber director Valerie Wilson) about signing up for that. And we also just signed up to do the Petal First gift card, so we accept that at our location. I think that any business in the community here … they should join.

Q: You mentioned that the store will be undergoing a name change?
A: Yes. We’ve had a lot of people that say, ‘Oh, Savvy Sisters is a gift shop.’ So what we’ve come up with is “Beyond Blessed Gifts: A Savvy Sister Company.” So Savvy Sisters is still here, here to stay, but we are changing the name. (That will take place) September 1.