The Petal Shoe Shop has been around since the 1950's - 1958, to be exact. A well-known staple, the Shoe Shop is one of very few businesses that has been around for this long in the friendly city of Petal, MS.
Owner of the Petal Shoe Shop, Hilton Holmes - who also calls himself the "zipper man" (that is a story for another day) has repaired shoes for as long as he can remember. In fact, he is among only a few shoe repair shops left in this day and age - its a lost art, to be honest. Not only does he repair shoes, but he can also make you a nice new belt out of that snake you just shot and skinned. He can repair your wifes purse strap - or the high heel on her favorite Sunday church shoes. Hilton also sells a wide variety of brand name work wear, including Carhartt, Wrangler, Justin - and anything else that could be considered essential for a Mississippi blue collared man.
The Petal Shoe Shop is located in the heart of the city of Petal. If you look at a map of the city, you'll see a distinct cross in the center of the town - that's where The Petal Shoe Shop established its home roughly 60 years ago.
In the 50's when the Shoe Shop first opened their doors, the city of Petal looked a whole lot different. The city wasn't even "officially" a city until 1974 and the Petal School district wasn't established until 1976. During those days, the Petal Middle School, which is located directly across the street from the Shoe Shop, was the High School. Petal Football games were the highlight of the week during football season. Every home game, if you lived or worked in Petal, you could hear the cheers echo across the city.
The main business district was built around the intersection of Main st and Central avenue. Remember that cross I was talking about earlier? This is where the very first businesses in Petal were located. This is where the people of Petal came to eat, socialize, attend a ballgame, watch a movie, pick up their prescription drugs, fuel up their tractors. In general - this was where Petal was born.
The heartbeat of this town was first felt right there on that intersection. Everything that we know and love about our city can be traced back to that cross in the center of town - and Hilton & Jerene Holmes have lived to see it all.
The Petal Shoe Shop still stands proud, overlooking what is surely an almost unrecognizable view from their front stoop today. Compared to the "good ole days", traffic is a little slower, business comes and goes - but the heartbeat of our city is still strong. Although Downtown Petal might not be the same as it once was, we do know that the best days are yet to come. What a wonderful time to be alive.
Jerene Holmes, wife of Hilton Holmes and owner of the Boardwalk Boutique (located within the Petal Shoe Shop) is a woman of true stamina and motivation. She is well into her 80s, yet she still finds the time to do alterations for those regular customers who come in needing a hem or a stitch fixed. Her price is $5 and she will spend all day making sure its done right.
She and her husband show up to work at their shop in downtown Petal 6 days a week, without ever missing a beat. I know, because I've had the unique pleasure of witnessing it first hand. Jerene carries women's clothes, boots, jewelry and accessories in her Boutique.
Jerene & Hilton Homes are the reason why small businesses like the Petal Shoe Shop & Boardwalk Boutique deserve all of the recognition they can get. People who spend their entire lives working to serve their community. Those are the people who make up the very foundation of our town. People who take the time and effort to build a business and then stay with that business, even during the toughest of times - for over half a century in their case. People who are willing to trade their pride for patience & perseverance and when a global pandemic forces their doors shut for 5 solid weeks, rather than throwing in the towel, they said "let's get back to work", instead. These are the qualities that make up the pillars of our community.
Our small businesses are here to serve our communities and we often forget just how essential they truly are. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we should thank our local businesses more often - praise them when they achieve great things - encourage them when times are hard. Most importantly, we should support our small businesses by choosing them over a franchise or big box store - when we are given the choice to do so. That feedback loop is so important.
If you are a small business owner, I hope that the story behind the Petal Shoe Shop & Boardwalk Boutique will inspire you somehow. In a town like Petal, next to our churches, small businesses make up the very fabric of our community. They keep our people connected. They provide something that can never be replaced - not by social media, not by big box stores or fast food chains. When it comes to the culture of a city, that is created, maintained & nurtured in the heart of the city. Culture is crafted by shops like the Petal Shoe Shop & Boardwalk Boutique and so many others.
If you trace the city of Petal back to its roots, you'll realize how important our mom and pop shops are. You will see how essential they once were. There was a time when we didn't HAVE anything but them - and during those times, they supplied our city and our citizens with what we needed. Now more than ever, we should return the favor and lift up those essential businesses.
Petal Shoe Shop & Boardwalk Boutique is open 6 days a week. Monday - Friday 8-5 and Saturday 8-12. You can stop in to see us anytime - and we look forward to doing business with you. Welcome to Petal - the friendly city!