This is the fifth in our series of posts about local Rolling Fork businesses and how they dealt with the Covid-19 panic and how it dealt with them as well. Today we visit Stop-N-Shop, P & P Tires, and the Sharkey-Issaquena Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Rolling Fork’s Stop-N-Shop grocery store, had an interesting time because they were in the process of relocating just as the Covid shutdowns hit. The store was phasing out items at the old location, the new location was not yet opened, and there were a few days when they were both closed in mid-March. When the new location opened, only 10 customers were allowed inside at one time. 6 weeks later they were able to increase that number to 20 and now unless there is a massive crowd, almost everyone may shop at once. Manager Barton Stephenson said that business has been good despite having had to limit shoppers, probably because people were not going out of town. Like other places, the store experience difficulties keeping the shelves stocked, especially paper and cleaning products.
The new Stop-N-Shop shares its location with Rolling Fork Drugs and between the two, you can take care of a great many of your grocery and personal needs without leaving town. As Barton said, it is important to shop locally and keep our dollars at home; this supports our friends and family.
P & P Tires did not close during the Stay at Home order since they are classified as an essential business. However, they did reduce the hours of operation for a while. Owner, Kelly Perry, said the business was initially slow because of the quarantine and the extensive flooding in the South Delta. However, business picked up when stimulus checks began arriving, which was great.
Shopping locally is important, according to Kelly because we are a small community and each of our local businesses is vital. He also said that when people need something, it’s good to know that it can be found here in town.
Several businesses and institutions that influence our daily life but are not actually stores have been affected as well by Corona. One such institution that had to change the way they are working is the MSU Extension Offices. Mississippi State Extension offers research-based information to the community in the areas of Ag and Natural Resources, Family Consumer Science, Community Development and 4-H Youth Development in most of Mississippi. Our local MSU Extension office, headed by County Extension Coordinator, Emily Carter, is a vital part of the Sharkey Issaquena community. Most of our Agricultural producers depend on the Extension Service at one time or another each year, and the service also offers a great many community and youth services. Usually very hands on and face to face, the Extension Service has had to convert to increased technology during this time.
Offices were closed as a result of the Stay at Home order, and agents and employees worked from home conducting business with community members and others by telephone, email, or on-line. Extension offices are currently open with limited access and Extension Agents are available by phone or email to answer any questions or respond to requests.
MSU Extension sees everything going digital moving forward and this just pushed some areas into it before they anticipated. One change that has occurred is the ability to secure private applicator training on-line instead of in a classroom situation. This is something that anyone wanting to apply restricted use pesticides in the state must have and must renew every 5 years – so most farming and aerial application operations need this. Persons needing this certification may now take an online program and test. Additionally, a great many free webinars on various topics from flower arranging to technology to wildlife habitat have been offered during this time.
Social media has been a huge factor in operations for MSU Extension. One example is a new group created during this time on FaceBook, the MSU Extension Get Down Delta group. On this site, several Delta area extension agents, including ours, encourage viewers to exercise in a variety of ways. They also extol the benefits of exercise like decreasing blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and improving mental health.
Extension Agent Emily Carter said that this pandemic has forced them to do things technologically that they needed to do and planned to do, just a little sooner than anticipated. However, not everything can be done on-line and Carter looks forward to getting back in the classroom with youth programs when it is safe to do so.
As a member of our Sharkey-Issaquena community, Emily said shopping locally is important because we need these community businesses. They are run by our friends and neighbors and we should support them because they are the ones that support our community.
We hope that you are realizing the importance of spending your dollars locally. While we all might enjoy a trip to Walmart or Target or getting a box from Amazon, we need to remember that what can be purchased locally needs to be purchased locally, and that we all need to support local businesses because they support us and provide jobs for us and our friends and neighbors. Most local businesses stayed open to help the community get what it needed when it would have been safer to close the doors. What would we do if they all closed?
Support Local, Shop Local, and Keep Rolling Fork’s Businesses in Business.