Small town Starkville, Mississippi is working to expand its retail options. With several vacant store spaces in Starkville, the city is catching the interest of retailers and is predicted to gain new stores in the future, with possibilities including T.J. Maxx and Aldi.
Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said there is a letter of intent for a T.J. Maxx and an Aldi to bring their stores to Starkville. A letter of intent is not binding, but it means that a retailer is officially interested in coming to the city. Mark Castleberry of Castle Properties is a private developer in Columbus and has an agreement of interest with these stores. Spruill said adding retail options to Starkville would have several positive effects on the community.
“We want to have as many choices for our residents as possible, so having additional retail is a very good and positive thing,” Spruill said. “If we have options, that is a good thing for all of our visitors and will hopefully bring people in from out of town."
Retail Strategies, a national retail consulting firm located in Birmingham, Alabama, is contracted by Starkville and helps businesses look at Starkville as a potential new location. They work with national retailers, allowing them to be aware of small towns.
Retail Strategies’ Portfolio Director William Turnley said there are several retailers interested in the Starkville area. However, due to confidentiality, he could not reveal locations or names. Turnley also said adding new retailers to the area is beneficial for multiple reasons.
“Every time we chip away at something and land something new in Starkville, that improves the quality of life for the citizens and the university students. Every time we land a retailer, that brings tax revenue to the city that they can spend on new projects and developments,” Turnley said.
According to Turnley, these retail developments could help improve visuals of the community, helping the city look the best that it can. Additionally, they could allow the city to spend money on things like infrastructure, industrial projects and housing developments.
Turnley said the firm’s goal is to help the city recruit retail and help with new developments. He said it is fulfilling to see the growth occurring in places like Starkville.
Students are excited about the possibility of new retail developments in Starkville. Katie Nguyen, a junior from Moss Point, Mississippi, majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations, said she would like to see a wider variety of retail options.
Nguyen said she would like more restaurants, but she would love to see more stores, specifically a Target. She said many students regularly drive over an hour just to go to Target in Tuscaloosa, and it would be great to have one easily accessible for Starkville residents.
According to Nguyen, sometimes it is hard to agree on something to do because people like to eat or shop at different places. She said it is a great thing for students to have lots of options because it would be easier to find a place that everyone wants to go to.
“I think it would help Starkville and potentially new students because there could be that one store or restaurant new students could all talk about because Starkville has it, and that makes them more likely to come here,” Nguyen said.
Spruill said she thinks options are a good thing for visitors and hopefully retail developments can bring in people from outside communities.
“I look forward to anyone who wants to dip their toe into Starkville business. I think that is good for all of us,” Spruill said. “I always enjoy talking to people who see Starkville as a great place to be, to do business, to work, to live and to learn.”