We all apparently wondered when life would return to normal. It looks like we’re as close as we’ve been for over two years now (if you ignore inflation which is only going up.) Below is some information you might find interesting, along with some upcoming events that might just lift the spirits.
• According to data from loan tree, 60% of people report having difficulty meeting their usual household expenses, and the number of people going through “very difficult” times has increased by 85% nationally. In Tennessee, the number of people having a “very difficult” time financially increased by 136%.
• Total tax revenue for April was $3 billion, $525.9 million higher than April last year and $915.3 million higher than the budgeted estimate, according to the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. The total growth rate for the month was 21.27%.
• The Kingsport Chamber Golf Scramble takes place on Wednesday at Ridgefields.
• The Downtown Kingsport Association will host a tour of downtown lofts on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. Six downtown properties will be part of the tour. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day. For more information, visit www.downtownkingsport.org.
• The Kingsport Chamber will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Tuesday at 4 p.m. at 108 E. Main St.
• Gravel at the Gate, a 50- or 20-mile bike route through scenic Scott County, will take place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Gate City. For more information, visit https://www.bikereg.com/gravel-gate.
• Since last Monday, gas prices across the state have risen nearly 13 cents, according to the American Automobile Association. On Monday, Tennessee’s average gas price is now $4.20, nearly 36 cents higher than a month ago and $1.31 higher than a year ago. The Kingsport and Bristol average is $4.23.
Notes from the field
It’s no secret that most malls aren’t what they used to be.
Many malls across the country have closed and are taking their last breaths as trends continue to float further and further away from the mega-mall foundation that gained traction in the 1950s and 60s. the wave of shopping malls over the next three decades until, according to the Smithsonian, the year 2007 – the first year since the 1950s that America has not seen a new large, closed mall open its doors.
Factors such as online shopping, the 2008 recession, low-cost retail options, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic have all, in part, driven a proverbial nail into the coffin of major hubs. trading in the United States since the late 2000s.
But all is not lost, it’s just misplaced.
I often say that history has a way of repeating itself. It may not be for the same reasons or in the same way as before, but the story often finds a way to regain its footing.
Much like malls in recent years, downtown shopping has seen its own decline and popularity. While gathering information on State Street in Bristol last fall, I spoke with Paramount Theater Vice President David Grace. He shared with me the history of the theater, dating back to when he saw queues in the street full of eager moviegoers ready to watch “It Pay to Advertise” and many more over the years . But over time, the trend has shifted to large, enclosed malls filled with major retailers. It was then that Paramount fell into disrepair. Many years and work have gone into the theatre, which is now alive and well, offering musical performances, theatrical events and more in the heart of the city center – which also seems to be thriving.
It seems like downtown spaces, smaller retail options, and even smaller malls and strip malls are on the rise across the country. But I believe it has less to do with the location and more to do with the people.
I don’t know if you’ve witnessed the same, but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people seem to have changed their views on almost everything, including where they shop. . The online options had a clear advantage, but I think there has also been a big shift in people wanting to support local businesses and make small purchases. In the same way that our country went from small to big decades ago, it seems we are going from big to small.
Companies like Amazon and Walmart are still on top financially, but there has been a change. And interest in revitalizing city center spaces goes beyond Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City.
Even big companies like Macy’s are taking advantage of the small business trend. Macy’s launched its “Market by Macy’s” small-format stores in 2021 and announced plans to open 10 new non-mall locations in the coming year after starting with five Market by Macy’s stores located in five major cities in the United States.
Change also comes down to a small local level.
Last week, I spoke with members of Gate City Frontier, the nonprofit group that works with the city to promote Gate City and revitalize its downtown. They also mentioned the interest they’ve seen from residents of Gate City and across the region who are hungry to support local small businesses.
Member and City Council member Allan “Cotton” Roberts also made a great point during our conversation – we’re coming into the summer months, and nothing can make you want to stay local like the rising prices of the gas and through the -inflation of the board.
I’m looking for local events, especially this summer, to see local and regional folks looking for a nearby opportunity to hang out, have fun, and hopefully spend some local money in and around the small business and downtown options.
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