Although I have lived in Jackson, MS for all eighteen years of my life, I always learn something new about my hometown every day. Despite the many hardships that Jackson had endured for decades, it is still blooming with new, rising businesses. This past year I had noticed a new store had opened in the Downtown Jackson area. However, it was not until last Wednesday that I had the pleasure of interviewing its owner, a fellow Jacksonian by the name of Mr. Johnathan Powell. He had opened his own business in Jackson by the name of Downtown Drugstore in August 2019. Its address is 318 South State Street Jackson, MS 3920, right next to the restaurant Kemistry.
Downtown Drugstore is a small brick building with windows surrounding its front. I was quite impressed by how much this small store had to offer. Inside the store, there are rectangular glass cases filled with items such as cookie platters, perfumes, lotions, and jewelry. Graphic tee-shirts are hanging on clothing racks; other racks hold a variety of stylish backpacks. There are food shelves filled with everyday items like cleaning products, painkillers, and of course, food. As a college student, it is imperative to me to have a nearby place to purchase food and other items when I cannot get to Wal-Mart or Kroger. This also saves a ton on gas.
In my interview with Mr. Powell, we discussed topics concerning advice for future entrepreneurs, must buy items, and Co-Vid 19’s impact on business.
SL: Why did you choose to establish your store in Downtown Jackson, MS?
It’s my hometown, and I’ve always wanted to have my own business. I choose Jackson because that’s my city, and I didn’t want to take my money out of the city. I didn’t want to go to the other counties. We are giving our service to the community. It’s a regrowing city; I see the potential in it. I like it. I’m comfortable here. I think about the younger people up under me. They have to have stuff to do and places to go. Instead of just leaving the city, help rebuild the city.
SL: What kind of products do you sell here?
It’s like a little small retail convenience store. We have like daily everyday needs, over the counter pharmaceuticals like pain medications. We have snacks, beverages, tobacco products, cigarettes, cigars, health and beauty care. We’re kind of like a little one stop shop.
SL: What were some obstacles that you faced before or while you were setting up the store?
The biggest obstacle downtown is the traffic. Like, it’s a lot of people downtown who work the hours of 8-5, but after 5 o’clock, most people leave Downtown. A lot of people who work Downtown stay in like Flowood, Byram, and Madison, and once they get off work, they leave Jackson. So, probably the biggest conflict is keeping consistent business and reaching out. Other than that, Co-Vid 19.
SL: Did Co-Vid 19 impact your business? If so, then how? If not, then how were you able to be financially stable when other small businesses were going under?
Co-Vid 19 definitely affected the business. I mean it affected all the business whether you have in store or online business. People have really just been trying to save and not spend exceeding. Co-Vid 19 has been a big ordeal. It has been very difficult.”
SL: Where do you see your business in five to ten years?
Definitely growing. Our market is really taking off. My business partner will open up another location in North Park (Mall) real soon like probably in the next month. We are venturing out a little bit.
SL: How much planning did you have to do before starting your business? What was that process like?
I say it took about 4-5 months to get up and running. We probably had been looking at this spot for about 2-3 months before we came and talked to the owner of the building to see if we could even in here. So, it probably took about 6-7 months to get everything together. But like I’ve said I’ve always wanted a business and was just trying to think of what kind of business. We had already been in the area. We had a bar on the next street, so we opted out that business and started a food truck business.
And one way that we kept reaching out was social media. Promoting our social media accounts. Trying to generate some business. Facebook: State Street Showroom Store. Instagram: Downtown Drugstore”
SL: What kind of advice would offer to others who seek to become an entrepreneur or an owner of a small business?
My advice would be if you want to start a business, make sure you got passion for whatever you are doing because it’s going to really take a lot to build it up and to grow your business. You need to be a people person and have patience. I mean, we didn’t make money the first day. It takes time to start making money. It’s not over night. Some people think they’re just going to open their doors, and people are just going to start flooding in. Have that dream. Follow that dream. Stay with it. I’m working for myself. Doing what I like to do, and it don’t even feel like work.
SL: Is there anything that you wish you could have done differently concerning your business? Also, have you discovered anything interesting on your journey as a small business owner?
Not really because I’m still learning as I go. I really can’t say that there’s anything that I would have tried differently. I mean, there’s always ways to improve. If you make a mistake, you could still improve that. No, I wouldn’t change anything. We actually did well.
SL: What or who inspired you to start your own business?
Just working with good people my whole life. My landlord that I am leasing for right now, I used to work for his son at a restaurant, and he taught me a lot about business. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and invest in my own dreams and myself. It’s just a goal in mind to get to.”
S.L: How do you think your business will contribute to Downtown Jackson, MS?
Like I said, we are a good resource for everyone who is in the downtown area because a lot of business around here close pretty early like 5 or 6. My correct hours are to 8pm, but sometimes I do stay over to 10pm.
This interview gave me an awareness of the possibilities that Jackson has once I look beyond its limits and faults. I was also able to gain different but refreshing insight about a place I had lived in my entire life. Dear readers, I implore you to take a trip to Downtown Drugstore and experience for yourself the enticing flavor it brings to Jackson’s table. You do not have to go far; it is just a block away