Marianna, Florida - December 28, 2011 -
It was another busy day Tuesday at the WalMart Supercenter in Marianna. Meanwhile, it was a different story at the shops downtown.
"This has become the norm," said Chipola Book and Tea owner Michael Downum.
Downum said with the economy still recovering and big stores like WalMart moving in, her store is slowly losing its ground.
"We can't compete against the big boys and if we try we're foolish," said Downum.
The news isn't as bad yet a couple of shops down at the near-century old Watson Pharmacy. But Phillip Watson, whose father started the business, admitted things aren't what they used to be.
"I can remember when we were the 'WalMart' of the city in the 60s and 70s," said Watson.
The pharmacy and Watson's jewelry store next door were closed Christmas day and the day after. He said that's because nowadays "mom and pop shops" are no longer the shopping destination.
"When you're a bigger store, you have to generate a lot of advertising dollars and that sort of thing to get people to come in. We compete at a different level," said Watson.
Watson stayed hopeful his family's businesses will survive for years to come, but Downum, who said her business has dropped more than fifty percent in the last two years, feared her days are numbered.
"If I can pay my electric bill then that's fine. I don't bring home a salary," said Downum.
Downum said another thing working against her and other downtown business owners is the fact that a number of stores have closed, which she believes pushes away prospective new businesses.