By Angela Rogalski
Founded over twenty-six years ago, The Mississippi Gift Company has become a national ecommerce/mail-order company and tourist destination dedicated to celebrating Mississippi. Located in Greenwood, The Mississippi Gift Company has dedicated itself to selling only products exclusively made in Mississippi. Owner Cindy Tyler says that she and her husband Tim started the business in 1993 with the idea of selling the Mississippi-made items to schools to raise money for their school.
“We soon changed our focus to sell direct to individuals and businesses who wanted products made in Mississippi, via our mail order catalog and retail,” Tyler adds. “We started focusing on direct to consumer sales and corporate gifts and moved to a small storefront in downtown Greenwood. At that time, in the early 1990s, we were the only retail store in downtown Greenwood and everyone thought we were crazy for opening downtown.”
Tyler continues, “In 1995 we printed our first mail-order catalog and started mailing to individuals and companies alike. We borrowed our brother-in-law’s camera and shot the catalog in the empty parking lot next to our retail location. When we received orders, it was just me and my husband Tim, occasionally with his parents, packing and shipping the boxes. Our first Christmas, just six weeks after getting married, we received a call from a customer saying that they had found a wedding ring in the basket they received from us and that someone in our warehouse must have lost it. We laughed so hard because we had no warehouse and it was just us packing and shipping, which meant that it could only be one person’s lost ring; my husband Tim.”
Tyler said the catalog gave them the appearance of a large company at the time and helped grow their business.
“We were also one of the first companies to have a website and worked to build a site on one of the first ecommerce platforms available in 1997. It was during the days of dial-up and took forever for the site load. Being one of the first to have an ecommerce site really helped grow our customer base.”
Today, Tyler and her team travel the towns and back roads of Mississippi to find and hand curate the best Mississippi made foods, gifts and home decor for customers to share with clients, friends and family.
“These unique and handcrafted Mississippi specialties ship direct to your door from our fulfillment/retail center located in downtown Greenwood, Mississippi in the heart of the Mississippi Delta,” Tyler says. “We have online customers in every state in the United States that love to give a gift of Mississippi. We also have a huge following of our email newsletter (around 90,000 subscribers) as well as Facebook for website (28,000 fans), Facebook for retail location (10,700 fans), Instagram (22,600 followers) and Twitter (26,600 followers). When we find a new and unique made-in-Mississippi item, we promote the item to our followers and customer base.”
Tyler says what differentiates The Mississippi Gift Company from other online businesses and shops is its made-in-Mississippi aspect.
“Everything is made in Mississippi. We are the first and only company dedicated to exclusively selling only made in Mississippi items and continue to remain true to our niche.”
During these uncertain times and with the onset of the tragic Coronavirus, Tyler says they are here for their employees, the community, the Delta and Mississippi.
“We are adhering to the CDC recommendations and guidelines and offering customers curbside pickup and online ordering and shipping,” she adds. “If a recipient lives in Mississippi, the package will arrive the next day for traditional ground delivery. We remain committed to our values to support Mississippi Makers and Artisans and encourage everyone to buy Mississippi and American-made. Each unique piece that we offer is locally sourced from our artisan community, which supports over 150 + skilled Mississippi makers and craftspeople. Despite this uncertainty, life continues with birthdays, weddings, “thinking of you” and corporate gifts.”
“Mississippi has a rich heritage of food, art and craftsmanship and it is such a blessing to have the opportunity to continue to showcase the best that Mississippi has to offer,”says Tyler.