We then found out that, like Pensacola, Hattiesburg loves a good bird sculpture. There are swans all over town, including this one:
Then we spoke to a local music retail operation that does a lot of business through relationships with school bands. Why are the little mom-and-pop sporting goods stores and pet stores getting driven out by big box stores but the local piano and guitar stores are still small operations? One reason seems to be that the value of local relationships with (and service to) schools is hard for a chain to replicate.
We were supposed to talk to a pharmacist in Petal (right next to Hattiesburg) but it did not work out in the end. However, we found out there are about six pharmacies in Petal which has a population of 7,500. This includes a huge new Walgreens on the same corner as a large Rite-Aid (see below) and a bunch of little pharmacies right nearby. We will have to investigate why there has been so much entry in this market.
We also spoke to a small local bar and grill chain (sort of like a Chili’s or Applebee’s). They have aspirations for further growth but that would require making major organizational changes. We learned about great technologies for bars, too. The owner’s electronic tap monitor caught someone doing maintenance in the bar pouring himself a beer at 5AM as he worked. So be careful when you try to steal a beer.
End of day highlight: The bathrooms of the Slidell, Louisiana Comfort Inn and Suites (where we drove after the meetings) have TVs in them. So we do not have to be burdened with thinking while brushing our teeth. The TVs are not necessary, though, given we can listen to NPR again now that we are near New Orleans.
Tomorrow is the last day of meetings. We start with a veterinarian and end with a small chemical manufacturer. Then it’s time to go home where (since the vet made me think of pets), we (or at least Paul) will find…