‘I came here as a little girl’: Jackson business closing after 30+ years due to COVID-19 impacts

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:21 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Ulmer’s Stride Rite in Highland Village was buzzing with customers Wednesday. But the owners say it’s not enough to counterbalance the impacts of COVID-19.

“It kind of hit us at the worst time possible because one of our busiest seasons is spring break and Easter,” explained Helen Summerford. “Everybody and their brother comes for those two times.”

Co-owner Helen Summerford explains that they order inventory by season and typically have 30 days to pay those vendors. But this spring/Easter season, they were closed during that time.

“We were stuck with a little over $50,000 worth of inventory that we couldn’t do anything with,” said Summerford. “I mean, we tried. We got our website up. People tried to support us. I mean, they did. It’s just nobody needed Easter shoes. Nobody was going anywhere. So, it just sat here and we had to sell a lot of that at cost.”

From March 15-May 1, the store did $7,000 in sales. In a typical year, they would’ve brought in between $90-100,000 in that same time frame. They announced their going out of business sale Monday.

Customers say it’s more than seeing a store closing for them. It’s closing the door on a place that holds special memories.

“I came as a little girl,” described Laura Fuquay. “My mom and grandmother brought me to buy shoes whenever I was young. So, we’ve been coming for a long time, decades.”

“Our daughter Sydney, she’s two,” explained Mary Smith. “And her first pair of walking shoes came from here. They took their steps over in the corner with her little shoes on, looking in the mirror.”

Summerford says they’ve wrestled with the decision.

“With the debt we had already accrued on top of having to re-order, it was just too much to come back from,” she said.

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