Laurel at Christmas

Laurel at Christmas

Sears Ad in Laurel MS Newspaper

Sears Ad from Laurel Newspaper, Contributed by Ronnie Gross

For me, Christmas means spending extra quality time with your loved ones, feeling all warm and cozy, and being grateful for who and what you have. There’s nothing quite like sitting by the fire with your family reminiscing about old times, snacking on homemade Christmas cookies and candy, and waking up on Christmas morning for a cup of coffee with the one you love (or to your children screaming excitedly).

My most vivid memories from Christmas are from my grandmother, Nellie’s house. She loved Christmas more than anyone I’ve ever known. You could count on her to be up before the sun was, just cooking away in one of her famous Christmas sweaters.

Her house was decorated to the nines, my favorite part being her homemade Christmas ornaments. The same ornaments that hang on my tree as I write this. She made the most intricately beautiful ornaments and crocheted Christmas tree-skirts, gave them as gifts to her children, and spoiled her grandchildren with what she could afford.

With my Dad’s side of the family dwindling, and me still being the baby, we have no children to spoil. We grow closer, and cling to togetherness more than the presents and the treats.

Looking back on the Christmases of my childhood, my excitement now has grown for things other than presents, (Don’t get me wrong, I still love presents!) and swelled so big for my family and friends that I almost can’t stand it until the celebration starts. Now, all I want is to relax in my decorated home, that is hopefully up to Nellie’s standards, enjoy my loved ones for as long as I can, and experience the magic that is Laurel at Christmastime.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

Laurel has always been special during the holidays, with all of our sweet traditions and decorations, but I believe that this year has been the most beautiful yet. Not only have we had an amazing snow day already so early in the season, but snow is still on the ground, and there’s a wintery chill in the air. (It’s not hot!)

With our Downtown merchants, we’ve had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, The Market Beautiful, and Christmas Open House, which were all exciting and bustling, with many merchants and eateries having their best sales to date. Our businesses have gone above and beyond, offering anything and everything we could need for Christmas gifts, launching special sales, and giving away free cookies and photos with Santa.

The City of Laurel, Laurel Main Street, and plenty of other sponsors and organizations have gifted us with The Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting, Pancake Day, and the Annual Laurel Christmas Parade. Let me tell you, every event was absolutely magical. 


Just strolling through Downtown Laurel and the Historic District gives me chills. Our streets are lit with beautiful lights, there are Christmas trees in almost every yard and window, the merchants have incredible Christmas displays, and First Methodist has it’s lit angels hanging from the trees.

Here’s some special memories from current and former Laurelites! (Thank y’all for contributing!)

At Lott Furniture Co., we know that this season we are planning on spending more time at home with our friends and families, and taking the time to get involved with Christmas events Downtown!

Get Downtown!

On December 22, from 5-8 PM we hope that you will join the Downtown merchants and eateries for a very special Christmas after-hours event. Most business will offer extended hours and special events. Lott Furniture Co. and The Laurel Leaf are sponsoring a Nativity Scene in Maker’s Alley, Laurel Mercantile Co. will be projecting The Polar Express on the side of their building, and HAND+made will host a special craft and Christmas photo-op. There are more activities and special updates to come, so keep your eyes on ours and the other merchants’ social media!

This event is perfect for last minute Christmas shopping, or just a fun event to bring your holiday company to!

Remember, this Holiday season is so important to #shopsmall. There is a Downtown Laurel business with a gift for just about everyone, and when you spend money locally, your dollars are going back into our community. That means that you can help a neighbor put presents under their tree, instead of contributing to a stranger or corporation.

We know that sometimes Amazon is a must, so if you do shop Amazon, use AmazonSmile to benefit Laurel Main Street! (When you buy with AmazonSmile, a percentage of your purchase is donated to Laurel Main Street.)

Thank you customers, neighbors, and friends for your constant support and encouragement. All of us at Lott Furniture Co. wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And, we’ll see you December 22!

And a special thanks to the folks in the “Old Laurel (Mississippi) Memories” Facebook group for sharing their memories and photos! (GayBeth Houston Kelley, Jackie Lynn Perkinson, Ronnie Gross, Mickey Merrell, Debbie Jones Patterson, Vickie McCarty Sisk, Stacy McCraw Stanton, Fred Kressman, James Bonney, Donna Oglesby, and Jim Rasberry)

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.

Remember to sign up in the gold box for email updates every time we post a new blog!

HAND+made by Clairmont & Co.

Downtown Laurel has always been a hub for people and ideas that are truly great. Supremely talented craftsmen, artisans, and creatives of all kinds proudly call The City Beautiful home, and they are bringing Laurel back.

HAND+made by Clairmont & Co. is truly one of the most innovative and creative businesses to meet Laurel’s Downtown to date. Stephen and DeShawn Clairmont built their first business, Clairmont & Co., to a well-known wholesale giant in the South just before this newest venture.

Now, they’ve stepped it up even higher and brought us HAND+made, an integrated retail and DIY shopping experience. The store incorporates handmade goods to shop for, as well as goods for you to make.

With wooden letters to candles, there’s something for just about anyone. Their prices range from around $6 to $40 in crafts, so you can make it as affordable as you want while having a large selection to choose from.

HAND+made is great for kids, dates, and parties too! Also, they host classes and workshops frequently and do special limited time projects.

This week, we went and tried HAND+made out for ourselves. The process was so easy and fun, we highly recommend it to everybody!

I immediately was given the grand tour and shown everything there was to pick from. I chose to make a candle and went ahead and picked out my scent. They gave me a glass vessel to paint and ribbons to choose from. Then, I got to mix my scent and pour my own candle!

It means so much more to have handmade products and decor in your home, especially if they were made by you! I for one was very impressed by my experience at HAND+made and will definitely be returning again.

At Lott Furniture Co., we can’t wait to see the spark of creativity that HAND+made will light in our community. Offering up a place for us to all become makers together is a very special thing that will hopefully be cherished for years to come.

If you haven’t made it over to HAND+made yet, get over there! And when you do, be sure to give Stephen and DeShawn some neighborly love and congratulations for their amazing new business.

Be sure to sign up in the gold box to receive updates every time we post!

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.


#iliveinlaurel: Stories Intertwine

St. John's Episcopal Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Being a child in Laurel was like a dream, but being an adult here is somehow so much grander. I’ve learned to appreciate the heat, humidity, and all the summer rain. My footfall between the oaks means so much more as I realize the feet that fell before me. The sunlight peaking through the oaks’ leaves, the wisteria, the ancient homes guiding me.

Small Beginnings Make Monumental Memories

My childhood truly was dreamlike, filled with a lot of bright summer sun and trips to M&M Bakery and Shipley’s with my grandmother, Nellie. On Saturdays at Lott Furniture, I would sit at her desk, where my mother sits today, and count pennies for what seemed like hours. It was “important work”, she said, and I believed her.

My Papaw Willie had a furniture store too just across the way from Nellie’s, the home of Laurel Mercantile Co. today. He was a navy man, but a geologist at heart. He would take me exploring in the empty lot beside the Mercantile that used to be darned with stone pathways and trees,

M&M Bakery

The little pink building is the site of the old M&M Bakery.

just to find the most beautiful rocks and stones.

“I grew up here but live in Big Sky, MT now. I love all the wonderful new shops and old shops that have been here always. I hope people come from all over to see this special town.” -Amber from Big Sky, MT

I remember walking from that lot to Trustmark Park just to sit and take the tops off acorns, where you’ll still catch others in solitude from time to time.

I remember taking piano lessons upstairs at the YWCO for a time from a Costa Rican woman named Nuria. She used to sing the notes as I played them.

I used to walk back and forth on the high ledge in front of my Aunt Candy’s house on 7th Street, right across the way from Rogers Green House and Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. (One time I fell into the hedges.) I even got to live in the duplex beside her last year and have my first real adult experience living Downtown.

“I love eating Loblolly Pops at the farmers market with my friends!”- Santanna from Laurel, MS

I was a flower in the “Nutcracker” at Laurel Little Theatre. I remember thinking it was a big deal.

My parents used to rent the old Big Chief’s furniture building as a warehouse, and I would sit in the window facing Magnolia Street and watch the Christmas parade. One time I even got to be in the parade when I was a cheerleader at St. John’s Day School.

“I love the hometown feel!”- Jerry from Mobile, AL

At St. John’s I was a “niner”, which means I stayed there for nine whole years, K3 to 6th grade. We took

St. John's

St. John’s Day School

all kinds of field trips around town—to the museum, Rogers Green House, and to Signatures, the old

coffee house where Knight Butcher is today.

My class planted a tree once. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s still there.

I played kickball, danced around the May Pole, was on the “green” team for field day at Gardiner Park, read my first books in the library, ate Mrs. Janice’s vegetable soup, came home with rocks in my shoes from the playground, and graduated with the Ariel Ball award at St. John’s Episcopal Church in 6th grade.

“I love the heart and the kindness of the people.”- Barry from Little Rock, AR

My first real job was at Lee’s Coffee and Tea my senior year of high school. I left after I graduated to go to Mississippi College, but I couldn’t stay away. I came back to Lee’s and started internships at Laurel Main Street and Own Your Hill. I had never been more humbled.

“I love coming here and feeling like family.”- Leanna from Hattiesburg, MS

Small Town Grandeur

And like I said, my adulthood is so much grander. I can see the oaks, the centenarians standing so tall above us, and I see their winding roots below them. Roots that are grounding everything, breaking up sidewalks and crossing our paths—keeping it all together.

I see the old bricks, planks of wood, Masonite board, nails and screws that come together to forge our

Rogers Green House

Rogers Green House

homes, the ancient castles of the South that we still treasure.

I notice the candle light from jack-o-lanterns and the dead leaves crunching under my feet on 6th avenue at Halloween, the larger than life Christmas tree in Pinehurst Park, live garland hanging from porch rails, and the wildflowers in the late spring and summer.

I hear the kids at St. John’s during recess, church bells, car honks, and Elvis music playing outside the Loblolly Boutique. But the smell might just be the best—sweet olive, honeysuckle, Pancake Day, right after it rains…

The heart of our City really is Beautiful.

“I love the beautiful homes and friendly people. I’m proud Laurel is my hometown!”- Beth from Laurel, MS


We have started a guest book at Lott Furniture Co. where we ask for our visitors’ favorite Laurel memory or experience. The quotes throughout this blog are some stories we got. From time to time, we are going to post more of the responses we receive so that the community can see firsthand why our town is so beloved from locals and out-of-towners alike.

Your story is just as important as mine. The story of your business is just as special as Lott Furniture Co.’s. People need to know about it.

Please share in the comments, email us, or send us a message so that we can hear your story! Also, don’t forget to sign up in the gold box to receive updates every time we post!

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.