How 3 Mississippi country stores are adjusting to high inflation: ‘It hurts everyone’

For 103 years, AF Carraway was located in Bassfield, Mississippi, a small town in Jefferson Davis County with less than 250 people live there.

The owner, Colleen Powell, stocks the store with typical items you’d find in a general store serving a small town and its surrounding communities. Yet one big seller, in particular, has kept customers coming back for years.

AF Carraway is the only place you can buy round house jumpsuits and jeans not only in Mississippi, but also in Alabama and Louisiana, says Powell. The Oklahoma-based workwear brand – itself more than a century old – is prominently displayed with piles of jeans about two dozen high under a banner celebrating AF Carraway’s centennial.

But AF Carraway is not immune to the ills of inflation. Recently, the wholesale price of all Powell products changed from week to week, including the coveted jeans. Round House’s latest shipment to the store included a price change that raised the price Powell pays for each pair of jeans $5 above what she normally sells them for. Because of this, she had to raise her prices by about $8, from $31.95 to just under $40.

The $40 cap was chosen for a reason — Powell, like Kelley in Sandersville, knows his clients can’t afford to pay much more than that. Economically, Bassfield resembles much of the rest of the state with one in five residents living below the poverty line.

“It’s a poor community,” Powell said. “We won’t be able to sell them if we make too many of them.”

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