Shop LOCAL with South Mississippi Small Businesses
Editor’s Note: Whether you’re driving up from the coast for a day of shopping or are a Pine Belt local, First Saturdays is worth adding to your craft fair/market shopping schedule. These type events allow families to support many south Mississippi small businesses…and at Parents & Kids, we’re all about keeping it local! The best thing about shopping at outdoor markets, fairs and festivals is not only the unique goods, but the unique people you meet. This article showcases well that diversity of people you encounter when you shop local!
On the first Saturday of the month, up to 40 vendors line up on Mobile Street from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for the “First Saturdays” outdoor sale.
Here’s a sample of what you might find, depending upon which local small business vendors are there that day.
For the bibliophile, Abby Hawthorne’s Rubbish Books and More is a treat. “I have always loved books,” Hawthorne said. “I used to dabble in all types of genres. It was fascinating being pulled away into a different world created by your imagination, just by reading words on a page. Imagine my excitement when the girls in our group agreed to start a small book club with me.”
“And this made me think,” Hawthorne continued. “What if other people would do this?” She started giving out books, wrapping them up so that the recipient didn’t know what they were getting. Everyone was excited to receive the happies.
“I felt maybe I could get more people into reading by doing this,” she said. That’s where Rubbish Books and More came into play as a business. “I began thinking about what I like to do when I read–take baths, have a nice hot cup of tea, burn a candle in my sunroom.”
Hawthorne sometimes creates packages named after her fur babies (Ollie, Mera, Cisco and Barry) and their crazy personalities. Barry-Allen, a failed foster adoption from Hattiesburg’s Southern Pines Shelter, is blind. Ten percent of Hawthorne’s sales at vendor events go to the shelter. She has book offerings for children, teens and adults. Hawthorne was a vendor at three markets in 2022, and sold almost every book at each one.
“It was very beautiful seeing how much reading still has a part in our community,” she added.
Riley Richardson, the owner of Stamp’D by Ri, is 24 years old. She has a booth for most First Saturdays.
“I engrave stainless steel jewelry by hand for women, men, kids and animals,” Richardson said. “I have developed my own technique over the years and perfected my craft to suit people of all ages and pets of all kinds.” She loves making a unique piece of jewelry for each of her customers.
“All of the stuff I have made has its own personal touch to it, and own creative idea and story behind it,” she said. Children love personalization, and they can wear their favorite pieces every day. “I have been overjoyed by the amount of support I have gotten from my younger supporters as well as their parents. It’s definitely a benefit for both parent and child because it is something special, personal and durable, but not at a crazy price. It’s very affordable.”
While shopping, patrons might be able to check out Kassy’s Kones & Concessions – Mobile Truck, based in Laurel. Shoppers can find cheesecake on a stick, ice cream and Italian ice.
Chris Evans is the owner of Under Dogs, where every hot dog has its day. Evans serves hot dogs, smoked sausage, loaded pulled pork nachos, and The Comeback, featuring Andouille smoked sausage on a French roll topped with grilled onions and peppers and a house-made comeback sauce.
Greshka Stuart, raised in Miami, Florida, is a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
“I wear many hats, both personally and professionally,” Stuart said. “Some call me mom, one calls me wife, and others daughter or sister. And others call me professor.”
Stuart lives in Raleigh, Mississippi. Since 2001, her career has been in higher education; she is currently an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. Stuart has a passion for cooking, and dreamed of owning her business. Stuart quit her full-time job at Mississippi State University and opened The Caribbean Frog (The CF) food truck.
“It has not been an easy ride, but it is an adventure, a dream, and most importantly, mine.” Stuart is the cook, cleaner, and public relations officer. “My Caribbean cuisine comes from a long line of strong women in the kitchen that showed me all kinds of traditional foods we ate at home, Puerto Rican and Cuban.” Stuart’s food is different for the area and region. She fancies the idea that people can get a bit of that island flavor in South Mississippi.
Wholly Fire Hot Sauce started two years ago in the Hattiesburg home of Doris and James Lewis. During Covid-19, Mr. Lewis started a garden in their backyard. He is passionate about cooking, and loves heat in his food. Since he suffers from hypertension, he concentrated on crafting a sauce without much salt; this became the Original Hot Sauce. They made their first sales in their neighborhood, knocking on doors with an inventory of 60 bottles. Since then, Mr. Lewis has constructed four different kinds of flavors and heats.
All of this takes place on First Saturdays of the month, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. in front of The Lucky Rabbit on Mobile Street.
These are just examples of a few of the heartfelt small businesses you will find in south Mississippi…we encourage you to KEEP IT LOCAL with vendors such as these when you shop for the holidays…you can find them easily at craft fairs, markets and local websites.
Mary C. Fairley is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. In addition to Parents & Kids-South Mississippi and Parents & Kids-Mississippi Delta, Mary’s work has been featured in Country Woman, DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South, and Mississippi Magazine. She and her friend, Angela Burkett, attended The Lucky Rabbit’s First Saturday in September; she cannot wait to return.