Residents say Fred’s store had a huge impact on downtown Columbus

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Fred’s discount store announced Thursday that it would be closing 159 locations across the country.

One of those locations is on 5th Street in downtown Columbus.

The store has been a part of this neighborhood since the early 1960s.

Friday afternoon was busy for Fred’s in downtown Columbus. Many area residents were checking out the final sale– some of them taking a minute to voice their opinion on the sudden closure.

“Wow. Not another store. Not another store,” said customer Danny Rast.

“There’s a lot of stores closing, but now I think everyone is going to come in here and just buy everything out,” said customer Tanisha Rainey.

“We got too many Dollar Generals,” said customer Thomas Massingall.

“Keep on and we’re going to have a ghost town,” said Rast.

“Why should another store run another store out of business,” said Massingall.

Reggie Hankins, on the other hand, is taking a moment to look back on the store’s brighter days.

In fact, the 5th street location was Hankins’ first management job out of college.

“It was a fun place to work for. At the time, it was owned by the Baddour family, and it was a very family oriented business. I enjoyed working there. The working conditions were good, and it was like a big family,” said Hankins.

He said Thursday’s store closing announcement shocked him.

“It had been there for such a long time, you know, you could always count on it. I even remember back when I started, we used to have a sign back behind what we called the chicken coop, or the little office area up front. It said, ‘we are closed on Sunday. The day is worth more than the dollar,'” said Hankins.

Many people throughout the community have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the matter, but Hankins said that probably won’t help much.

“From a corporate standpoint, they look at the bottom line. If the figures are not there, then it’s a business decision that it appears that corporate is making,” said Hankins.

Although this may be the end of the line for some Fred’s locations, there’s no denying that it was a staple in many communities.

“It’s a bad thing. It is, it’s a bad thing,” said Massingall.

“It’s sad,” said Rast.

Columbus will be losing both of its Fred’s stores.

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