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Nostalgia on Steroids in Mississippi!

We left Fairhope, AL excited to “discover” our next set of cool places to experience and spotlight. After we crossed into Mississippi we found a real gem in Hattiesburg: Stuckey’s!

For “people of a certain age”, the name Stuckey’s may conjure up images of the roadside souvenir and candy stores you stopped at when you took trips as a kid. Its famous Pecan Log Roll was (and still is) a tasty sweet treat, and always a highlight for folks stopping there. While Stuckey’s stores declined over the years, it’s coming back now – with a vengeance. Why? Because the granddaughter of its founder (an attorney and former GA state legislator) Stephanie Stuckey is on a mission to bring the legacy of her family’s business back to its former glory for future generations to enjoy. And in just a few short years, she’s accomplished a lot in her quest to achieve that goal. Stuckey’s great tagline says it all for road trippers – “Relax, Refresh, Refuel”.

Stephanie alerted Russ Whiteside that our Tour would be stopping by to visit his store. Russ told me he’d be out of town, but said his manager Candy would be there to greet us. And, man, what a warm greeting we got! She definitely helped us “relax and refresh”. Check out the wonderful gifts she prepared for us. Side note: Candy makes the awesome fudge sold at the store.

Candy (is her name appropriate or what?) was so sweet! She and her crew run one heck of an operation in Hattiesburg and do the Stuckey’s name proud.

We left Hattiesburg excited to get to our next stop. Along the way we reached a small milestone of the Tour: 1,000 miles behind us, thousands more to go.

We hit the 1,000 mile mark in the small town of Pontotoc.

Hello Laurel, Mississippi: For all you fans of the HGTV show Home Town with Ben and Erin Napier, this post is for you? Linda and Bill are you paying attention!

Named for the thickets of native mountain laurel, the town started out as nothing more than a glorified lumber camp in the middle of yellow pine forests. Now known as one of the “50 best small towns in the south”, visitors flock to Laurel to try and get a glimpse of the cutest couple ever!

Once a crumbling and abandoned downtown, Ben and Erin Napier’s creative contributions to the revitalization of this town are seen everywhere. And look who showed up at their store, The Laurel Mercantile…well sort of!

To honor his family’s Scottish heritage, Ben Napier named his furniture/woodworking business the Scotsman Company. This iconic building and sign are often featured on their TV show.

The Mural Project in Laurel is a huge attraction to the downtown area and a great way to showcase the creative skills of local artists. This mural welcoming visitors to Historic Downtown Laurel was designed by Erin Napier and painted by Will Sellers.

Time to eat!

Lee’s Coffee and Tea downtown was the perfect spot to drop in for a quick sandwich. It may not look like much from the outside, but boy was the inside a big surprise!

Still not much to look at but wait for the big reveal of this centuries old building!

Lee’s was originally the Sears Roebuck Company store. Featuring two stories, the beautiful original wrap around mezzanine, exposed pipes, lots of wood and tin ceilings, this old building reminds us how important repurposing architectural gems is to maintaining the personality of a small town. The sandwich was pretty good too.

Bart took this shot from the mezzanine level, which probably housed the men’s department back in the day. Our next “episode” will be brought to you from the quaint town of Oxford, Mississippi, home of Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) and the birthplace of author William Faulkner. See you soon!

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