MMSA 2018: Laurel Wins 4 Awards

Good news! Laurel racked up 4 Mississippi Main Street awards at the luncheon this year! Main Street chapters from all over the state attended and fellowshipped together over the vast revitalization that’s sweeping Mississippi.

Continue reading for a run down of what we got!

Home Town Heroes

Main Street Hero – This award recognizes one outstanding community leader or public figure who has displayed an involved commitment to downtown and his or her Main Street program.

Winner: Mallorie Rasberry (nominated by Laurel Main Street)

Director: Judi Holifield

Accepting: Mallorie Rasberry

“There  are  people  who  are  dedicated  volunteers  and  passionate  advocates  for  their  towns.  They  are  at  almost  every  event  and  are  valued.  You  give  them  awards  to  show  your  appreciation  and  thank  them  constantly  for  their  service.  Then,  there  are  people  who  have  been  there  since  the  beginning,  are  at  every  event,  and  you  never  get  the  opportunity  to  thank  them  because,  if  you  did,  you  would never  be  able  to  stop.  There  are  people  without  whom  the  success  of  the  organization  is  immediately  called  into  question.  That,  ladies  and  gentlemen,  is  Mallorie  Rasberry –Wife,  mother,  accountant,  and  fierce  advocate  for  Downtown  Laurel,  Mississippi.  When  it  comes  to  service  with  Laurel  Main  Street,  Mallorie  has  done  it  all,  including  the  early  mornings  and  late  nights.  When  thinking  about  her  hard  work,  what  else  can  we  call  her  besides  Laurel Main Street’s Hero?”

Outstanding Adaptive Reuse Project This award is granted to the best adaptive reuse of a building that has outlived its former use.

Winner: Laurel Main Street – The Burton’s Building

Director: Judi Holifield

Accepting: Josh Nowell

“Laurel  Main  Street  Executive  Director,  Judi  Holifield,  used  to  say  that  rehabilitating  the  Burton’s  building  would  be  the  ultimate  domino  effect;  all  of  the  other  buildings  along  Magnolia  Street  would  be  sold  if  only  that  one  could  be.  Josh  Nowell  bought  the  building  and  breathed  new  life  into  it.  The  historic  character  of  the  building  was  preserved,  including  the  vintage  sign,  while  new  businesses  were  allowed  to  make  their  own  mark  on  it.  It  is  currently  full  with  two  retail  stores,  a  co-working  space,  and the offices  for  an  engineering  firm,  and  a  restaurant.  The  best  part  is  that  Judi  Holifield  was  right,  and  Magnolia Street  is  now  filled  with  businesses.”

Outstanding Community Transformation – This is an overall award that goes to a Main Street program that has achieved a successful, preservation-based downtown revival.

Winner (Medium Size town): Laurel Main Street

Director: Judi Holifield

Accepting: Lew Yoder

“How  do  you  bring  a  town  back?  It’s  a  question  that  has  no  easy  answers,  and  the  answers  that  are  given  usually  require  years  and  more  work  than  one  might  ever  imagine.  However,  for  Downtown  Laurel,  there  is  no  question  that  the  town  has  been  revived  in  a  powerful  way.  A  stream  of  dedicated  volunteers  has  made  possible  a  vibrant  town  full  of  creative  and  passionate  people.  Over  a  dozen  new  businesses  have  opened  in  the  past  two  years,  and  more  are  on  the  way;  vacant  buildings  are  now  the  exception  rather  than  the  rule.  LMS  is  at  the  center  of  a  web  of  transformation,  where  local  business  doesn’t  just  survive;  it  thrives.”

Merchant of the Year This award recognizes one outstanding local business owner who has a flourishing and innovative business and displayed an involved commitment to downtown and his or her Main Street program.

Winner: Lott Furniture Company (nominated by Laurel Main Street)

Director: Judi Holifield

Accepting: Rodney Rowell

“Lott  Furniture  Co.  is  Laurel’s  oldest  business.  They  have  over  a  century  of  history  in  our  small  town  and  a  plan  to  stick  around  another  hundred  years.  Rodney  Rowell  and  his  wife  Angie  believe  that  their  business  is  more  than  just  a  means  to  an  end;  they  believe  that  it  is  a  resource  for  them  to  put  down  roots  and  live  in  a  community  of  people  united  toward  a  common  goal.  The  business  is  most  certainly  a  family  affair.  Rodney’s  mother  worked  there  for  over  50  years,  and  he  and  Angie  met  at  Lott  when  she  started  working  there  as  well.  The  Lott  team  has  taken  Mr.  Lott’s  original  business  model  and  adapted  it  for  young  people  who  are  moving  to  Laurel,  and  they  are  dedicated  to  being  tireless  advocates  for  their  town.  Laurel Main Street  hopes  we  never  have  to  know  a  Downtown  Laurel  without  Lott  Furniture!”

We are immensely proud of all the winners at this year’s MMS Awards, which most definitely grants a “Congrats!” to all Laurelites. It’s absolutely amazing that Laurel received “Outstanding Community Transformation” out of all medium-size towns in MS.

How well deserved! Everyone’s hard work is paying off, and will continue to do so years in the future. 

We are personally so grateful for the state-wide recognition of “Merchant of the Year”. We’d like to thank each and every person for their unconditional support of Lott Furniture. Co. over the past 100 years of business, especially to our customers. Without you guys, we are not Lott Furniture.

Once again, thank you. Thank you for every purchase, every kind word, and every referral. We just want to bring you home.

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.

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Downtown Laurel’s Best Photo Spots

It’s no secret that Downtown Laurel is full of beautiful photo-ops, but we’re sharing a list of the very best. Keep reading for some backdrops to kick up your Instagram feed hand-picked by the locals.

We are so excited to announce a brand new visitor’s resource, Visit Downtown Laurel.

Lott Furniture Co. is proudly sponsoring this website full of tips, tricks, and an amazing guide to Laurel, MS. We’re so excited, we wrote some content to contribute!

Head on down to Visit Downtown Laurel for more great blogs, info, and tips all about Laurel.

1. “The Yard” at Laurel Mercantile

Two amazing murals, a shade tree, antique trucks; what more could you ask for?

Locals’ Tip: Hop to this photo spot before 10am when The Merc opens to get beautiful morning light/pedestrian free photos all to yourself.

2. Laurel’s Historic District

Our historic district is so darn photogenic, all the photographers around here flock to it.

Locals’ Tip: You can take photos in front of both the Laurel Rogers Museum of Art and the Rogers-Green House across the street. Gardiner park is another local favorite! Head South, and find it after hanging a right off of 5th Ave on W 7th St. It’ll be on your left!

3. The “Adam Trest” Wall

Right across from Trustmark Bank, this Eagle Scout project turned into a Downtown favorite! These banners are some beautiful Loblolly pines by one of our favorite Laurel artists, Adam Trest.

Locals’ tip: This wall is right next to one of the biggest free parking lots in Downtown Laurel! It’s also right behind the back entrance of Lee’s Coffee & Tea.

4. Maker’s Alley

Maker’s Alley is no secret photo spot. Just about every local has taken photos back here!

The beautiful bricks, old doors, and soft sunlight are just begging for a photo-shoot.

Fun Fact: Sometime in the 80s, the Hawaiian Tropics Girls took a group photo in front of this door! We wish we could show you!

5. Under the Lott Furniture Co. Sign

Lott Furniture Co. is a must stop. We are the oldest retail business in Laurel, and our Lott sign is original from the 1920s.

Many visitors have taken photos with Rodney right in this spot. Erin and Mallorie approved!

Come in and ask Rodney where his other favorite photo spots are!

6. The Downtown Laurel Mural

Laurelites are real proud of this mural! This is great proof of your trip to Mississippi’s Home Town.

Fun Fact: This mural was designed by Erin Napier herself for a local leadership group!

Sign up in the gold box for updates every time we post! Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more Laurel goodness!

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.

Laurel Loves Home Town


Smith House HGTV Home Town RTR Media

Smith Reveal on HGTV Home Town, by RTR Media

HGTV Home Town is all about revitalizing Small Town America, as well as nesting and re-nesting new and old Laurel families. We could not be more excited or grateful to have the HGTV team in Laurel for a second season.

Did y’all catch the newest episode of Home Town last night? There were a couple real friendly faces who found their forever home in Laurel, MS! Aly Smith (manager of Laurel Mercantile Co.) and her husband Jordan picked the Thompson house, a beautiful Italianate that needed a face-lift.

We got to see our great friend Chad Evans in the Scotsman Co. Wood Shop, Mr. Mike the Floor Man, The Laurel Leaf, our Norman Construction guys, and of course Erin, Ben, and Mallorie!

Big City Traffic for our Home Town

Over the last 10 years, exponentially the last 5 or so, Laurel has bloomed into not only a weekend destination, but a perfect place to fulfill your small town dreams. We’ve had the gift of making so many new Laurelites feel welcome and at home in their new houses, and we just can’t describe how wonderful that is.

There’s much to attribute to Laurel’s booming success, but one big reason is definitely HGTV Home Town. 

We are proud to say that our business, as well as others in the Downtown area, has significantly increased since the pilot. We experience more foot and digital traffic, as well as more opportunities to meet some really great people.

Not to mention, the design team on Home Town shops local! Not only us, but many businesses in the Laurel area have been featured on television for millions of people to see. (Thanks, HGTV!)

If you’re interested in seeing a full list of every piece in the houses of Home Town, RTR Media has a rolling archive full of design goods used in the episodes on their website. (Including Lott Furniture Co. products!)

Speaking of Lott Furniture Co., we’ve got some fun behind the scenes from the The Hurt House for you guys!

Home Town Meets Lott Furniture

Back in August, the Home Town crew came to visit us in search of a bed for the Hurts in episode 1. They chose our favorite iron bed, and even found something unexpected!

We had lots of fun with the cast and crew, including a coffee break with Big Ben and Patrick, Home Town’s amazing director for Season 2.

After browsing our bedroom options, Rodney offered up a tour to Erin and Mallorie to visit our third floor!

“They literally gave me one day warning, so there was no time to do anything special for the shoot. I was so nervous, but Erin and Mallorie made me feel pretty comfortable in front of the camera. The RTR gang are just as friendly and warm as they are professional. Patrick, the director, and Angie, the producer, felt like old friends after a few minutes. The biggest shock was how honest the show is. I was prepared to follow direction, but that’s not how it’s done. They capture real moments. What you see is unrehearsed. Our conversations were spontaneous and Erin and Mallorie had no idea what I was taking them upstairs to see. I love sharing how real Home Town is with locals and visitors!” -Rodney Rowell on his experience shooting for HGTV Home Town at Lott Furniture Co.

  • HGTV Home Town Lott Furniture Co. RTR Media
  • The Hurt House HGTV Home Town RTR Media
  • HGTV Home Town Lott Furniture Co. RTR Media

Erin & Mallorie Film in Lott Furniture Co.

The Grand Tour

HGTV Home Town Hurt House RTR Media Lott Furniture Co.

Here’s a great photo of the Hurts’ bedroom, featuring our heirloom iron bed and the wooden boxes on the left! Taken from RTR Media

Our third floor is a grand storage room of sorts that holds every record we own since 1917. Because Lott Furniture Co. is technically 3 buildings, we’ve got 3 distinct areas on the third floor. (Fun fact: Our address is technically 318-322 Front St.!)

The far left used to be a boarding house, where we still have 4 specified “bedrooms” off of a large hallway with multiple fireplaces. Also on that side is a large common area where we have placed our elevator used for transporting heavy furniture.

Our “middle” room is one big, open record room. We have dozens of boxes and old filing cabinets just full to the brim of old letters and receipts. Many of the wooden boxes were even built by Mr. Lott himself!

Our far right side is called “Miss Pat’s Room”, named after Rodney’s sister. Lots of her old clothes and antiques are stored in there, as well as some of our work benches, vintage sewing machines, and various parts and hardware.

Erin and Mallorie absolutely loved the wooden record boxes, and we let them have 3 of them to create some beautiful shadow boxes in the Hurt House!

A long-lasting collaboration

We are so proud of Erin & Ben, the cast and crew of HGTV Home Town, and most of all of our local folks who help make it happen. We’re not just talking about working with Home Town; we’re thankful for all of our fellow merchants who collaborate, support, and act so down-right neighborly to us 24/7.

We hope that all of our Downtown friends will continue to support the HGTV effort, welcome visitors with open arms, and maintain the strong camaraderie we’ve already established.

Therefore, we welcome you all to ride this tidal wave with us that doesn’t have to end. Let’s use this influx of interest, business, and exponential success to thrive for years to come.

Make sure to watch HGTV Home Town on Monday nights at 9/8 PM Central! We live tweet at @lottfurniture with the whole #LiveTweetCrew! Last night, we all got Home Town trending at #2 on Twitter!

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and sign up in the gold box for updates every time we post!

-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.



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.