With more than 3 million square feet of commercial real estate encompassing nine major shopping centers, dozens of restaurants and more than 200 retailers and restaurants, the Barnes Crossing area on North Gloster Street in Tupelo still has room to grow.
At least, that’s what businesses in the busy shopping corridor say, as they begin putting together what will be the Barnes Crossing Business District.
“We’ve been talking about this for years, but we’ve been so busy building our businesses that we didn’t get around it until now,” said Jeff Snyder, the general manager at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, the anchor of the area. The mall, along with Mitchell Scruggs, the owner of Scruggs Farm, Lawn & Garden and Home Improvement Warehouse, are the chief organizers of the group, which had its initial meeting Tuesday morning.
“We’re one of the last ones to form a district, when we really should’ve been one of the first,” Snyder said.
The mall is celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, and since its opening in 1990, it has helped generate more than $6 billion in retail sales and more than $200 million in retail sales taxes to the city.
The Barnes Crossing Business District is being organized so that members can network and communicate with each other, as well as with other businesses in the city.
“This is not the mall’s business district, this is a district for everybody in the area,” Snyder said. The district roughly covers everything north of U.S. Highway 78 to the city limits, west to Mt. Vernon Road and east to Big Oaks Golf Club. “We want to complement and work with the other businesses, too, like we already do.”
The ultimate goal, said Scruggs, was to work together to bring more businesses – and customers – to the Barnes Crossing Business District.
“We’ve got to get better organized, pool our resources, have better communication and bring more people to the area who will spend more money,” he said.
In addition to the mall celebrating its silver anniversary next year, the new district will roll out the inaugural Mud Creek Festival on Father’s Day weekend.
Pat Rasberry of the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau said the name presents a wide range of opportunities for organizers.
“This will be your event that’s unique and like nothing else,” she told the group.
The festival will have events going on at various sites, and Snyder said the grassy area next to the pond by the mall – now called Mud Creek Lake – would be an ideal spot for some event. Among some of the event possibilities of the Mud Creek Festival would be a carnival, music acts, a run or bike race and some educational elements to let people know about the history of the area.
“We don’t want to be a rubber stamp of some other festival, we want to make it our own,” Snyder said.