When it comes to buying holiday gifts or finding the perfect Halloween costume, a lot of people are accustomed to searching the internet or elsewhere to find what they are looking for. This is the case for Nacogdoches. When walking down Main Street, one can see Shop Nac First stickers plastered on store fronts and in the stores themselves.
Amy Mehaffey, the Main Street and communications director of Nacogdoches, has helped many businesses come to Nacogdoches, specifically at the heart of it all on Main Street.
“What makes [Nacogdoches] so cool is the eclectic people that make up the city,” Mehaffey said.
Because of the diverse community and variety of age ranges, each person brings their own unique take to this town. However, one of the biggest issues local businesses are facing is trying to get the community to start shopping locally.
Larger businesses like Amazon and Walmart cut down the smaller, locally owned businesses. Instead of looking towards local businesses to find what they need, most people look to these bigger businesses and elsewhere.
“We live in a day in age where shopping online is a good thing,” Mehaffey said. “When people spend their money in [Nacogdoches], the money stays in [Nacogdoches]. We have to continue to support the infrastructure of smaller businesses for the city.”
Main Street, and the streets surrounding it, holds a lot of boutiques, antique stores and other local businesses. Because of this touristy location, many of the small businesses have been able to thrive. Some of the businesses have been open for close to 30 years, such as the likes of House of Traditions and the gift shop Heart of Texas.
For the owners of House of Traditions and Brick Street Antiques and Collectables, Nacogdoches is the only place they call home. They both started their businesses in Nacogdoches.
“We’ve been in business 33 years,” Karen Harris, House of Traditions owner said. Whereas Tania Watson, owner of Brick Street Antiques and Collectables, has had her business open for 20 years.
“What we strive to do, Tania and I both, is to give an experience when people come in,” Harris said. “You’re not going to get the experience of coming in and shopping as you would online.”
Because of the location of Nacogdoches and her love for this town, Rebecca Gall, owner of Twigs and Tin and Gall’s Café, came back after 24 years of being away to start up her business here in Nacogdoches.
“We really love being part of the downtown community her,” Gall said. “It really is like a family,”
For Gall, the Shop Nac First campaign reminds her to look in Nacogdoches first. She believes that shopping Nacogdoches first is a great way to improve the local economy.
“It is really important, because it keeps money here in [Nacogdoches], which goes for things like fire trucks and road improvements,” Gall said.
Many of the business owners say that SFA students and their families are major contributors to the Shop Nac First campaign.
“Students are a huge part of what makes [Nacogdoches] so special,” Mehaffey said.
Not only do the students and their families help improve the economy, but some students take their knowledge and insight actually improve the retail and small business experience.
“Over the 25 years I’ve been down here, we’ve had various groups of students do various types of studies on downtown,” Gerry Larabee, owner of Heart of Texas said.
Nacogdoches is a town and a city many people feel a great sense of pride for. Whether they lived in Nacogdoches all their life or came back to start a business and home, the Shop Nac First campaign helps people remember to support and give love to their town.
“Everything that the students do here, it contributes and supports the overall economy,” Gall said. “If we didn’t have SFA or the students, it would be a huge hit to our economy.”