Visit Jackson Recognizes Small Businesses During NTTW
May 4, 2021
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies. During National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2-8, Visit Jackson takes a look at a handful of selected retail partners who entice visitors and locals alike, and enhance the City With Soul mission to connect, engage and inspire the Jackson community.
Billed as an “alternative culture” store in Jackson’s Midtown neighborhood, OffBeat started in May 2014 as an idea and an attempt to build community through a store and art gallery.
“I learned how to read from comics and being a DJ… they just mesh so well together,” said owner Phillip “DJ Young Venom” Rollins. “I felt like (comics) wouldn’t be strong enough as a store by itself, so, let me combine the two and add in some designer toys and a gallery wall for minority artists.”
In previous years, the store hosted shows, had parties, movie screenings, album releases, free comic book days, video game tournaments, record store days and so much more. In their first major event since the pandemic, Offbeat will host Record Store Day 2021 on June 12.
Rollins added, “I want people to realize all the potential Jackson has before giving up on it.”
Offbeat is located at 151 Wesley Avenue. Visit them online at offbeatjxn.com.
Thimblepress’ Kristen Ley Allen. Image: Beth Morgan Photography
It is the mission of Jackson, Mississippi-founded Thimblepress® to “encourage kindness and inspire fun with the colorful, happy and innovative products they create, the stories they tell and how they operate their business.”
The vibrant and inspirational brand, founded by Jackson native, Kristen Ley Allen, was nurtured from early on. Allen’s creative family propelled her to pursue an arts education at Mississippi State University, and, in 2007, she founded Cultigraphic Creative® with fellow MSU classmate, Catherine Yerger.
In 2011, she purchased an antique letterpress in Kentucky and opened Thimblepress, a name inspired by her childhood thimble collection.
Allen’s work has been spread nationally and internationally, with collaborations with Target and Staples, among others, and featured on the Today Show. But, locals appreciate her State Street storefront where they pick up greeting cards, inspirational journals, notebooks and other encouraging works of art.
Thimblepress is located at 113 North State Street. Visit them online at thimblepress.com.
Tony and Jessica Lofton and family of Lofton and Co. Image: Lofton and Co.
Lofton and Co.
Lofton & Company Brands is a locally owned and operated small business run by the husband and wife team, Tony and Jessica Lofton. Their products are handmade in small batches in Jackson with scents inspired by family, friends, nostalgia and life in general. There’s even a “City With Soul” scent, created in collaboration with Visit Jackson, described as sweet, buttery perfection with notes of sugar, butter and vanilla (you can purchase this candle at the JXN Welcome Center or online).
The company was created in the family living room after the Loftons had a talk about the future they wanted for their two sons, Marley and Mason. Their interest in candle making combined with Jessica’s love for making her own hair and body products were the perfect match for a business they both could call their own.
With a collective goal of teaching their sons the value and importance of working hard, taking control of their own finances through entrepreneurship and making a positive impact in their community, Lofton & Company became bigger than Jess and Tony; it has become the start of a legacy for their entire family and the generations to come.
Chef Enrika Williams, Thabi Moyo and Foot Print Farms’ Cindy Ayers-Elliot during the Magnolia Sunset Market, held at the farm the third Saturday of each month.
Foot Print Farms
Cindy Ayers Elliott’s Foot Print Farms is a 68-acre specialty crop, vegetable and livestock farm, with a focus on agri-tourism for community development in the City of JacksonAyers-Elliott’s mission extends beyond planting physical seeds, though: she believes offering educational opportunities in the community have the power to plant a seed in the minds of young people.
After working five years as CEO for Delta Foundation, Delta Enterprises in economic development in the Mississippi Delta, Ayers-Elliott also worked many years in New York as an investment banker. She likes to say she has traded in her high heels for a pair of work boots (and that “never-leave-home-without-it” pink cowboy hat).
In recent months, Foot Print Farms has partnered with Chef Enrika Williams and creative Thabi Moyo to host Magnolia Sunset Markets – every third Saturday – a curated urban marketplace mixed with artisans, local produce, food, and music and good times. Ayers-Elliott hopes events like these will lead to additional opportunities to welcome locals and visitors alike to experience her farm.
Foot Print Farms is located at 4945 South Drive. Visit them online at footprintfarmsms.com.
Conkrete’s Keith Richardson
Keith Richardson owns Conkrete Kickz Sneaker Boutique in West Jackson near Jackson State University.
A longtime sneaker fan, Richardson was living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast when a “job offer I couldn’t refuse” called him to Jackson. He worked with Foot Locker part-time (“for the discount,” he said) until he formed his business plan and opened his own store.
Conkrete offers a selection of exclusive shoes, along with clothing and accessories, mostly for men, but women’s shoes are offered, too. The shop also serves as a community gathering space, with live music and dance events.
Conkrete Kickz is located at 1500 University Boulevard. Visit them online at conkretekickz.com.