The City of Morrow in Clayton County has been losing national retailers as the economic slowdown continues to plague metro Atlanta. But Morrow is seeing a rise in the number of mom and pop stores.
Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady says Morrow is the biggest retail area in Clayton County. But at a recent economic conference he revealed a number of national retail chains have pulled out of the city. “We had roughly a million square feet of retail. And we’ve lost about 400,000 square feet of retail." He said "That’s difficult for us, especially understanding that that’s where our biggest revenue comes from.”
He said Morrow's occupational tax revenue is down. Eady said the city's ad valorum car tax revenues are down, and police fines and forfeitures are trending downward.
Still, the city’s commercial permits are up. Eady said “What we call the Mom and Pops are coming upward. We see a lot of people following their dreams now, trying to open their own business." He said Small restaurants, small retail shops and things like that are going upwards. Which is why our permits on the commercial side are up.”
Vivian Williams just opened Viv’s Seafood, a takeout seafood restaurant. She says if you offer a product customers can't otherwise get in the area, you can succeed in Morrow. She has been getting business through word of mouth and thanks to a presence on the internet. But Williams says she still wants more national businesses nearby to help draw customers. “The area I’m in, so many businesses have moved out of this plaza. So we’re trying to build it back up.” Williams has only been open about six weeks. She’s hoping to increase her customer base when she gets an advertising campaign going.
Marcus Williams has owned the Nubian Bookstore in Morrow for 15 years. He specializes in children's books, history books and sorority and fraternity paraphernalia. He says independent businesses can succeed in Morrow. “I think cause they’re offering services that aren’t widely available in this area.”
But Williams says he’s also seen a lot of small businesses fail because they didn’t offer something unique.