This Little Dollar

Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal. Permission to reprint with attribution to Mississippi Business Journal and Phil Hardwick.


This is a tale of two dollars. One stayed at home. One went to another town.

Once upon a time there were two dollars. They each lived with their owners in the small town of Make Believe in rural Mississippi. Make Believe was a nice little town. There was a Main Street that had lots of little shops that sold special items and arts and crafts and catered to people who drove through town. There was also a grocery store. There was even a doctor in Make Believe. It was a nice little town that was enjoyed by all its residents, none of whom wanted it to change.

This story of the first dollar is easy to tell. Its owner placed it snugly in her purse and drove 45 minutes to a nearby, larger town with a shopping mall. The owner stayed all day at the mall and spent the entire dollar on things bought in stores owned by big corporations in faraway states.

Part of the first little dollar stayed in that town and part of it went to the state government, but most of it went by electronic magic to another state. At the end of the day, the owner went back to Make Believe with all her treasures. Not one penny of the first dollar ever saw Make Believe, Miss., again.

The story of the second dollar is much different. The owner of the second dollar went to a little shop in downtown Make Believe. There the owner talked a long time to the shop owner about the beautiful merchandise in the store.

The shopkeeper told all about the things that were made right there in Make Believe. There were birdhouses built by Bob, beveled glass made by Beverly, blouses of silk designed by Betty, mocha chocolates by Missy, and even silverware crafted by Sam.

This owner of the dollar spent the entire dollar right there in the shop. The journey of the second dollar was much different from that of the first dollar. Yes, the first 7 cents arrived at the government in Jackson. One penny was sent back to the local town. So one penny of the sales tax came back to the Make Believe City Hall.

The owner of the shop took the next 50 cents and sent it to the manufacturers of the items that were bought. Because all of them lived right there in Make Believe, the 50 cents stayed there.

The next 16 cents went to the employee of the shop owner. Yes, you guessed it; the employee lived in Make Believe.

There was rent to pay on the shopkeeper’s retail space. It was paid to the owner of the building, who had lived in Make Believe all his life. The rent was 10 cents of the dollar.

There were operating expenses that the shopkeeper had to pay. Things such as utilities and maintenance and insurance. Sixteen cents of the dollar went to pay those expenses and some of the people that got paid lived in another town far away. Still, eight of those 16 cents was paid to people in Make Believe.

That left 8 cents. What would happen to it?

That’s right. Eight cents was the shopkeeper’s profit she got to keep. Of course, the shopkeeper lived in an apartment upstairs above the shop.

If we total where the second dollar went, we learn about 86 cents stayed in Make Believe.

I wonder what will happen to the 86 cents. Will the manufacturer, the employee, the real estate owner, the shopkeeper and the others spend the 86 cents in Make Believe? Or will they go somewhere else?

I wonder how much of the 86 cents will be spent in Make Believe. Because every time another penny is spent in Make Believe, the little town is better off because someone in Make Believe received it instead of another town.

Each person has a right to spend his or her money wherever and whenever he or she wishes. But when people spend their dollars in other towns, it does not help the economy of their hometowns.

The Tale of Two Dollars is told at this time every year because many people don’t know when they spend their money in their own hometown it helps their hometown.

You Asked, We Deliver

There have been numerous strategic planning sessions over the years in which the goal was to determine how to make Petal a better place to live and do business.  Scores of individuals have devoted time and energy into these discussions and many ixmprovements have been made.  Strategic planning is ongoing and ever evolving with new issues arising and old issues remaining to be solved.

One item that has been a constant on the list of “we would like” is more family friendly activities for our residents.  Often, the comparison is made that our next door neighbor, Hattiesburg, has Live at Five, Art Walks and the Brown Bag Lunch Series.  Why can’t we have some of those type of events?  Well, we can!

The Petal Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first Downtown FAM Jam (Food, Art, Music & FAMily friendly)  on Friday, November 15 from 5:00-8:00 at Wilson Square Park (newly named for the beautiful green space shaded by towering oaks behind Petal Family Dentistry on S. Main Street)  The event will feature live music, food vendors, arts & crafts and art activities for the kids.  Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the evening with friends.

Depending on the support and response to the Downtown FAM Jam, this could grow to be an annual event, quarterly event or monthly event.  It’s up to you!  See you there.

Keep it Local!

 Imagine Petal without any of its small, local businesses. Restaurants, hair and nail salons, corner stores, spas, boutique clothing stores, repair shops, laundromats, hardware stores, gift shops, gas stations, and more – all gone.

What would be left? What would the streets look like? Desolate, depressing, empty, boring, abandoned… like a regular day on the zombie apocalypse TV show, The Walking Dead?

Just how much of a presence and impact do small businesses have on our communities? The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S. alone. And since 1995, those small businesses have generated 66% of all new jobs in the United States. Small businesses are a big deal.

This brings us to the upcoming shopping season of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our merchants are here to help you and make you shopping experience pleasant. More importantly, you are helping to support our local economy and your neighbors. Just think of the hundreds of students that have an opportunity to work because of our merchants. There is not one Amazon job available in Petal. Think about who you want to support before you one-click shop.


Break Your Routine!

Anyone that has driven the Evelyn Gandy Parkway to the intersection on I-59 has seen the incredible developments. Plus, we will soon be experiencing changes on East Hardy to South Main Street. Join us on Wednesday, October 9, as we hear from our Southern Transportation Commissioner about these new developments and what they will mean for Petal. The luncheon will be at the Petal Civic Center from 12;00-1:00 pm

Most importantly, joining us at a Lunch and Learn offers you a break from the routine. Professional networking events are not an everyday occurrence in most people’s lives. Typically, they represent a break from your routine, which can be powerful in its own right. By stepping away from the day-to-day, you may find the change of scenery refreshing. Plus, your exposure to different professionals and the presence of learning opportunities may spark your creativity, helping you to innovate and solve problems that previously plagued you.

The opportunity to meet with like- minded business professionals is a perk to your chamber membership. Please take advantage of it and bring an associate to learn about what is happening in our city.


I can’t say enough about the success of our Star Spangled Celebration on the River.  The weather was perfect, the vendors were wonderful, the music was super, the crowd was huge and the fireworks were stunning.  Most of all, we had a great time.  The estimate is that there were between 4,000 – 5,000 at the Petal River Park.  We were hoping for 1,500.  This event was a year in the planning.  It was a pleasure to work with our friends across the river in Hattiesburg.  Kudos to the city of Hattiesburg, the city of Petal, and Forrest County for providing the resources necessary to make this a family friendly, safe event for everyone.  The support from VisitHattiesburg and the ADP was invaluable. And I can’t leave out my great friend, Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association for her enthusiasm, experience and great humor.

If I learned anything, it is that our community loves to get together and celebrate with each other. It’s heartwarming to see kids playing and families listening music while enjoying good ole fair food.  We need more of this!  But, there is the reality that it costs a lot of money and requires a lot of planning and a hoard of volunteers.  Please support and thank our sponsors who made this possible.  Here is a list.  They all deserve a big pat on the back and your loyalty.

Coca-Cola of Hattiesburg, The First, IHeart Radio, Grove Transit, Gulfsouth Productions, Visit Hattiesburg, Party Box Rentals, Fairley Construction, Dandy Dan’s Smith Petroleum, Mississippi Power, Bourne Brothers, Chick Fil A, Signs First, Keith’s Superstores, Grand Bank, Magnolia State Bank, Trustmark Bank, Central Sunbelt FCU, Carter’s Jewelers, American Graphics, A-1 Grapics, Puckett Rents, Hancock Whitney Bank, Taylor Rental, Stokes Distributing and Southern Beverage.

The volunteers were the heart of this event.  I know that I will leave someone out, but I will attempt to list all of the fabulous groups that gave up their opportunity to relax and enjoy the evening.  Thank you to the Cosmopolitan Club of Petal, the Petal Jaycees, the Petal High School Ambassadors, The 177th Armored Division of Camp Shelby, Dick Pryzbelski, David Ruffin, Zach Vaughn, David Bassett, many individuals and the board of directors of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce.

As we plan for next year, please consider being a part of the event as a sponsor or volunteer.  It takes all of us!



We are in the final stages of planning for the “Star Spangled Celebration on the River by Coca-Cola.” This seeds of this project started in July of 2017 during a discussion with Andrea Saffle, director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. Andrea and I (Valerie) were considering events that we could sponsor together to promote our cities and our organizations in a mutually beneficial way. “FIREWORKS!” Everyone loves fireworks! And so it began.

This event has taken on a life of its own. Thanks to our generous sponsors, Coca-Cola, The First, City of Petal, City of Hattiesburg and Forrest County Board of Supervisors we were able to launch the event and reach out to additional sponsors. On Tuesday, July 3 from 5:00-10:00 pm there will be live music, food vendors, kid’s inflatables, and more at the Petal River Park and Hattiesburg’s Chain Park, culminating in a grand fireworks display at 9:00.

Here are some practical suggestions to make your evening more enjoyable. There will be secure parking on the Petal side of the river at the old fairgrounds location for $5.00 (cash only) per vehicle. This will be the closest location to the event for parking. It may fill up quickly. It would be great if area churches would use their small buses to transport groups from the church parking lot to the park.

It will be HOT. There’s no way around it. Dress appropriately and don’t forget the sunscreen. The Petal River Park is on the river in the Deep South… there will be mosquitoes! Bring repellant if you want to ward off the nasty critters. Ice chests are allowed, however, it may be difficult to carry them from parking locations. We will have lots of food and beverage vendors in the park to handle your hunger and thirst! Small tents are acceptable but they will need to be taken down prior to the fireworks in order to allow great viewing for all guests. Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed and encouraged.

The Petal side of the river will be alcohol free. The Hattiesburg side will be selling beer. If that makes a difference, choose your side accordingly.

Most importantly, for this event to grow and become an annual tradition, we need to support it! Please support the sponsors and thank them! Support the vendors so they will come back. Support the volunteers, police, firefighters, and city personnel that are critical for success. Spread the word and enjoy the fireworks!

June Farmer’s Market

The first Farmer’s Market of the year was held on April 21 with over 35 vendors selling their wares. On May 19, the market had grown to over 50 vendors on site. The June Farmer’s Market will be held on June 16, the day before Father’s Day. This will be the largest market to date with vendors still signing up and will also feature an antique car show plus live entertainment.

In fact,  Central Avenue in front of the market will be closed to traffic to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience. The car show will be held in the parking lot in front of the Petal Middle School gymnasium and the market will be directly across the street. Special entertainment for the kids, and the young at heart, will feature Unkle Hokum and band. Feel free to bring a lawn chair to enjoy the concert.

It’s exciting to see so many people in downtown Petal enjoying the market and the experience. It’s our hope that the market will continue to grow and flourish. Special thanks goes to Tabitha Burden of Grand Central Outfitters for opening her doors, literally, to help organize the market. More thanks to Charlotte Ford of Laughing Doves Farm for her expertise and help organizing. And, many thanks to the volunteers from the Petal Jaycees for their help every week. Rev. Bill Burk of Calvary Baptist Church, thank you for your help. Most importantly, thanks to the City of Petal, Mayor Marx, the Petal Aldermen, Police and Fire Departments, Recreation Dept. and Street Department for their support.

Get ready for the biggest event of the year!

It’s been too long since we have had a 4th of July fireworks celebration in Petal.  We WILL have one this year and it will be bigger and better than ever because we will be joining our friends across the river.  For the first time in recent memory, the City of Petal, the City of Hattiesburg and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors are sponsoring an event together along with presenting sponsor Coca Cola.  The Star Spangled Celebration on the River is organized by the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association with a goal to bring visitors from across the area to our cities and to offer a first class, family friendly event for all to enjoy.

It is a truly unique event offering two locations across the river from each other.  Let’s call it dueling fireworks!  In Hattiesburg the event is located at Chain Park and in Petal it will be at the Petal River Park.  Each side of the river will have live music, food vendors, beverages and each side will have a simultaneous fireworks display over the river at 9:00 pm.  One difference is that the Petal side of the river will remain alcohol free while the Hattiesburg side will have beer sales on site.

From the chamber’s point of view, this is about more than fireworks.  It’s about two cities and the county cooperating together.  It’s about promoting a great natural resource, the Leaf River.  It’s about introducing visitors to Chain Park and the Petal River Park. Both are wonderful parks that are virtually unknown and under utilized.  It’s about the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce and the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association joining forces to organize an event that is all inclusive and which benefits both cities and organizations.  Finally, it’s about pride.  Pride for our country, our state, our county, our cities and our quality of life here.

Sponsorships are available for the celebration as well as opportunities for select vendors.  Call the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce for more information.  601-583-3306.



It’s what you’ve been waiting for!

The revival of the Petal Farmer’s market is apparently what many have been waiting for.  Over 30 vendors were on hand for the first market of 2018.  It was a smashing success!  The amazing thing is that the fresh produce is still yet to come.  Cool weather this spring has delayed many crops.  But, that didn’t bother the hundreds that came to the market last week.

The Petal fire department brought the BIG firetruck for the kid’s to explore. Live rabbits and chickens brought smiles to all of the children and the variety of booths brought smiles to their parents.  Live music and food vendors rounded out a wonderful day of family friendly fun.

Plan on the market expanding every week and make it a part of your plans for the 3rd Saturday of the month.   More produce and vendors will be coming on board as the season progresses.

Petal Farmer’s Market – It’s Back!

WOW!  Petal is excited about the return of our Farmer’s Market.  There will be a few changes to the market….for the better we hope.  Not only will the market offer fresh produce and products from locally grown fruits and vegetables, but it will also offer art, crafts, homemade soaps, food vendors, entertainment and more!  It will also be much more visible.  The new location is on Central Avenue directly across the street from the Petal Middle School gymnasium.

The market will be open on the 3rd Saturday of each month beginning on April 21 and lasting through the growing season.  On April 21, the Petal Fire Department will have a fire truck on hand for children to investigate.  Also, look for the live animals for the kids to see.  Every weekend will have unique activities for the family to enjoy.

Help us grow the market by supporting the vendors and visiting every weekend.  The market welcomes church and civic groups that would like to sell items for fundraising.  Those interested in participating as a vendor can pick up an application at Grand Central Outfitters located at 126 E. Central Avenue.  You can also call the chamber office to have a form emailed to you.  See you at the market!