Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Woodland? What's in Woodland?

Nestled away off of the Natchez Trace in North Mississippi is Woodland Furniture Store, unique in that it is both the largest furniture store in Mississippi, and the unofficial city hall for Woodland.  Patti Hill Pettit is the Mayor of Woodland and the owner of the store as the fortunes of both the city and store wax and wane together.

Entrance to Woodland Furniture Store

The story of Woodland Furniture Store began when the town’s school consolidated with the Chickasaw County public schools. The Bullard family bought the empty Woodland school buildings in 1986 to prevent the blight that plagues communities when large buildings become empty. They opened the furniture store six months later.

Mayor Patti Watkins in action.  The staff takes a nap.

Upholstered furniture was popular at the time in North Mississippi.  Some furniture stores could not afford to buy the required minimum amount of furniture from manufacturers, so her family bought furniture and then sold it to other stores.  The Bullards, however, also sold to retail customers as well.  Mrs. Pettit said, “We bought 100 sets of coffee tables and end tables to sell.  The screws were too short to hold the legs, so we had to go back and get new screws and bolts to hook everything, but we sold every one of them.”

The store grew until it became the largest furniture store in Mississippi at 450,000 square feet.  Furniture is sold in five buildings, with each housing a different type. Bedroom, dining, and children's sets are in one building, office furniture is in another, while rugs, coffee table sets, and living room furniture is each housed in their own building.  The school cafeteria is now the store's office with furniture served up instead of hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. 

There is a method to the madness.  Convenience is the key.  Customers can look at the same type of furniture in each building instead of hunting and pecking from set to set as is the norm at most furniture stores.

Coffee tables, anyone?

Woodland Furniture Store is a family affair.  Mrs. Pettit said it is family-owned and “family-run.”  Her parents opened the store with her.  Her brother and sister later joined the company.  Her daughter, son, and niece currently work at the store.  "We raised our kids and now raise the grand-kids here,”she said. 

 Mrs. Pettit said normal customers live within a sixty-mile radius of the store, although they also enjoy a robust following in Columbus and Jackson.  The store sells furniture made by well-known manufacturers. High-end, low-end, antique, the store doesn’t cater to just one type of customer.  “We try to offer something for everyone’s budget.  We are a destination store.   We try to have great prices and don’t have sales.  We even have more baby beds than any store in the Southeast.  We have sold furniture to customers in every state in the Continental USA and even two foreign countries.  Pretty interesting for a town of 189 people,” Mrs. Pettit said.

Woodland does not advertise, instead relying on the spoken word as in word-of-mouth advertising.  No sales commissions are paid to employees.  The store has a reputation for offering lower prices, while avoiding bargain-basement quality.

The most interesting aspect of Woodland Furniture Store is that Mrs. Pettit is also Mayor Pettit, serving for over 30 years in that position.  Even towns with populations of less than 200 people need a Mayor.  Mayor Pettit came into the position because of a wastewater dispute.  After she discovered that wastewater from septic tanks was running off into ditches, Mrs. Pettit asked the Mayor to do something about it. The Mayor just said she didn’t want the job anymore, so Mrs. Pettit ran for Mayor with the Mayor's blessing and won.  She said she told the Mayor, “I don’t know anything about being Mayor” to which the Mayor replied, “Neither do I.”  Would be that more politicians were so honest.

The problem was solved.  The Mayor said Three Rivers Planning and Development helped her obtain grants that paid for a wastewater treatment system in her first year in office.  Most basic functions such as fire protection and law enforcement are handled by Chickasaw County.  The town offers water service through a water works association.  The annual budget is around $100,000.  There are no city employees and most services are performed by volunteers and inmates.   The town has all of five streets- which have been repaved during Mayor Pettit's administration  The town even has a Christmas display of nearly 1 million lights and yes, it does have a convenience store.

Mayor Pettit runs city operations out of her office at the furniture store although the town has a little brick building for board of aldermen meetings.  There are three aldermen.

Mayor Pettit plays with her grandson

Mrs. Pettit grew up in Montpelier, Mississippi, but moved to Woodland for her senior year of high school.  “If you told me that I would be here for 40 years, I would not have believed it” she said.  She said she has one child, adopted three more, and has three grandchildren.  Her passion is riding her Honda 1800 Gold Wing motorcycle.  She just returned from riding over 3,000 miles to New Mexico and back with her husband.  The original plan was to ride to Key West, but some tropical weather had other ideas.  Even her 81-year-old mother rides, making the outings a truly family affair.

Classes of Woodland High look down on furniture for sale

Opinions come easily to Mrs. Pettit and she doesn’t mind sharing them.  Internet retail sales are internet obviously a subject of concern to her.  She said they are going to “kill small-town USA and by small-town, I mean towns such as Madison, Jackson, and Brandon.  People are not going to local stores to buy anymore.  Many of those stores are family-run and they support their communities.  No one on the is going to give your football team a donation or buy their meals on a Friday night.”   She said internet sales are not yet affecting the furniture industry as it has the clothing industry but it’s coming.  “Our children are not going to have the luxuries of having parks and playgrounds,” she said.

She bristled when asked about the collection of internet sales taxes by the Department of Revenue.   “We get a share of sales taxes paid in stores.  We are fortunate because we have a furniture store, mobile home dealer, and a Dollar General.  However, you get into small towns with only one or two stores, you send all of those internet sales out and it kills them.  If the state would be as money-conscious as the small towns and working people in Mississippi have to be with their budgets, we might not be in the financial mess that we are in," said Mayor Pettit.  She said because DOR considers Amazon to be a “use” tax, the cities get no share of that revenue.  Then there is the matter of how the state gives goodies to corporations in the name of economic development. 

“Bullcrap” was the Mayor's description of sales tax rebate programs such as those provided to Renaissance and Outlets of Mississippi.  “We get someone coming in here to supposedly put people to work, I know we have to give them something, but we give them the state,” she said although she doesn't have a problem with helping established manufacturers such as Toyota.  However, she continued “You come to Woodland, they have not given us anything, that includes every furniture store in the state.  We are employers, we support the communities.  Some of these employers say they will employ 50 people, they employ 5, and they are gone.  Let’s look at bio-diesel fuel, we threw $75 million at that and now have nothing.

Directions from Jackson:  Take I-55N to Winona. Get on Highway 82 East.  Go north on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  Get off at Highway 15 N.  Woodland Furniture is five minutes from the parkway.  Turn at the giant Woodland Furniture billboard (There is only one way to turn.).  The drive is two hours whether traveling via this route or the Natchez Trace Parkway from Jackson.

Delivery: Woodland Furniture Store delivers at a rate of $2 per mile within Mississippi.  It delivers to other areas, but different charges may apply.

 Store Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 AM – 6 PM.     

Pet-friendly: Yes.  

Phone number: 662-456-4315



Anonymous said...

Great place to buy furniture.
50-70% off right out the gate. Same stuff you have at Miskellys.

2.5 drive,but well worth it if your buying or about to buy.

Cash is king and you'll be able to bargain.

Louis LeFleur said...

Interesting. Never heard of the place. Had an aunt and uncle in Tupelo for nearly 50 years and never hear them mention it, even though my uncle was one of the most frugal people I ever knew... then again I don't know that they EVER bought any new furniture in the time I knew them given his frugality. Duh.

Burke said...

Thanks for stretching out a bit and turning up this hidden gem. Great comments from the Mayor!

I have an idea for Jackson: We could turn it into a huge truck stop, with drone connections as well. We could eventually add port facilities, once the sea levels have risen sufficiently.

Anonymous said...

We furnished our entire cabin at our camp from this store. Great people and they will deal with you. They also have a few private individuals on stand by that will deliver (you have to negotiate with these private individuals). We had a young father and son deliver and set up for us, it was a win-win for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kingfish!

I expected a bumpkinesque 'Solid Knotti-pine Paul Bunyan' type inventory. But the website shows some great stuff.

I may be buying the 'Curator Rectangular Dining Table', which is Modern (and not the soon-to-be passe 'Mid-Century Modern'), and adaptable (office layout space, library table, dining table...).

But I'm not worried about ALL brick & mortar retail going belly-up. Shopping is about all there is to do, in most of small-town America. And plenty of us are wary of buying online, because we don't like being TRACKED. We keep our names and addresses out of as many databases as we can. And, considering all the recent hacks, we use our credit cards as little as we can, too. Yes, you can go and buy Visa Vanilla cards for paying online. But while we're out buying Vanilla cards, why not stop into actual stores? Seems easier...

Anonymous said...

Cool Story and good write up... Wondering why I had not heard of this place previously.... Thanks, KF!!!!

Anonymous said...

Shop local. Go to Miskelly’s.

Anonymous said...

I've been there several times. Great place to buy furniture. I bought a desk for $625.00 there that was priced at $2150.00 at Miskelly. Same brand, model, SKU number, etc.

Anonymous said...

Great success story. Good family & business. I live in Ridgeland and have driven there and bought several items overs the years. Much larger selection to choose from and they will cut you a deal..

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel


Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS