Back in 1884, Mr. E.A Simmons and his brother-in-law, Tom Wright had a small wood framed store at this spot in Kewanee, Mississippi. But it burned in 1925. But then a year later, they opened this spacious brick store and it was THE place of business here for years.
Gary Pickett: Which at the time it was, I guess it was kinda like a Walmart come into town. Which you could get anything you wanted here. They had enough catalogues that, uh. Shoes, clothing. Uh. Any kind of farm equipment, that's mostly what they were doing, was seed and any kind of farm equipment.
Walt: That's Gary Pickett, Mr. Simmons' great-grandson. Gary and his wife Janice run the store now. They were newly weds here in Kewanee.
Janice Pickett: This is where we as a young couple did all of our grocery shopping.
Walt: But time changes everything. I-20 replaced highway 80 as the main road through the area. And the real Walmarts came to nearby towns and cast a shadow on the small country store. But Gary says things really started changing for small towns like Kewanee and stores like Simmons-Wright long before all of that.
Gary Pickett: I think what it was, after the war was over, and uh, World War Two. And the number of jobs were not…There were so many young people here that there wasn't enough jobs for them so they started moving off and the migration of people leaving here was just horrendous.
Walt: So about the time Gary and Janice took over running the story, it was obvious it could no longer be what it was.
Janice: After his little aunt deceased and everything and we kinda took over we saw that we were going to have to put other things in here, you know, to get people to stop.
Walt: And they new thing Janice and Gary came up with, antiques. The kind of nostalgic stuff people like to rummage through to see what treasures they can unearth. Most of it's for sale. Some of it is for display. And they use a lot of it, like the fans for cooling in the summer and the potbelly stove for heat in the winter.
So what's old is the newest thing at the old Simmons-Wright Company at Kewanee, still alive, reveling in the past.
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