Familiar sight throughout the city

The town of Grambling is a city on the move. While the town is trying to drastically improve its visibility to compete with other cities in the area, businesses in the town are drastically disappearing.Over the past year, the city has seen the closing of many businesses, most notably Sonic. Other businesses include, but are not limited to, Pizza Express, a business that used to be in conjunction with Subway; Knowledge Records, a record store; and Plateau Records, a recording studio that also sold Cingular merchandise.

With Fred’s closing its pharmacy portion of the store Wednesday (Mar. 6), things seem to be looking down for the city. However, Barbara McIntyre is optimistic that the city will be revived business-wise.

“The Chamber is working with President (Horace) Judson to bring in a shopping center across from Fred’s, motel and some other things,” said McIntyre, president of the Grambling Chamber of Commerce.

The city is a shell of its former self. Downtown Grambling used to be lined with numerous shops, from clothing to eateries. While the shops were plentiful, the customers seemed to be non-existent, forcing businesses to leave.

The most recent business to close was the pharmacy section of Fred’s Dollar Store.

“Fred’s couldn’t tolerate (the pharmacy) operating at a loss after all these years,” said Mike Adkins, the manager of the pharmacy last week.

The loss of the pharmacy was a major setback for the city.

“From a business standpoint, we cannot afford to lose another major business in Grambling,” she said. “If we can’t keep the businesses we have, what does that say about us?”

However, some businesses have found some success remaining in the city.

“For me, business has been great,” said Shirley Wilson, owner of Balloons Galore in the Village. “Business has been consistent. I think this is a great place to do business.”
Wilson said that she has gotten business from GSU students, the elementary school and high school. She’s currently looking to expand.

“We not only need to reach out to the college community, but to the Grambling community,” she said. “This community can be built up if people would spend money at home.”

McIntyre is currently trying to develop a plan to raise visibility for the city of Grambling.

“We’re going to have to redouble our efforts to let citizens know what is here,” she said. “If we get some businesses, the taxes on our citizens won’t be that high. The main thing is that it takes revenue from the city. Once they see that something like that is up and running, that attracts other businesses as well.”

Attracting businesses isn’t easy, however. Businesses have specific qualifications that must be met, and there must be some initial support from the community for the business as well.

“We’ve been working on these things,” McIntyre said. “It’s not that easy to get commitments. We have to prove that we are going to support our local businesses to get others to commit.”

Despite some stumbling blocks, a hotel is currently in development to establish in Grambling, along with the Culpeper and Meriweather Circus, which will be in town on March 25. A meeting is being planned to help establish what the city needs to do in order to keep existing businesses and retain current ones. It’s a small, but critical step for the city.

“We are looking forward to what we can do,” McIntyre said. “Grambling was great back then, and it can be now.