It’s not uncommon to see friendly faces in Downtown Laurel. Whether you’re studying in Lee’s Coffee & Tea, picking up a treat from Shug's Cookie Dough & Candy Bar or visiting Lott Furniture to pick out the perfect piece, you can expect to be greeted with a, “Hi there, how are you?” by a friendly neighbor. Rest assured, one of those friendly faces will be Keri or Laekin Rowell.
Young, ambitious, and always motivating others to be part of the community, they strengthen Laurel with their willingness to serve in any capacity and build a place for for young professionals and Laurel lovers alike to be a part.
“I’m an advocate for community. I like to be super involved, doing something to help and volunteering when I have the time– especially with Laurel Main Street.”
Keri grew up in Downtown Laurel as her family has owned Lott Furniture, the oldest furniture store in Laurel. At 100 years old, the Lott store holds many memories and stories of what Laurel was before it was the beautiful Downtown that it is today. Through many years of being the only store open in Downtown, they’ve made an incredible comeback and have become a hub for people to purchase furniture and to converse for hours on end.
“Lott Furniture is a really interesting entity because its not really about furniture. It’s the hangout spot. That’s what it’s supposed to be. My grandfather actually owned Smith Furniture, which is the Laurel Mercantile now. In there, he used to have stools in front of his counter and everyone would come in there and smoke and chat. That was the hangout almost 30 to 40 years ago, but for so long, there was nothing. We were the only people downtown.
There wasn’t a Downtown Laurel too long ago. It’s been within the last 10 years. I think that shocks people. But, until Lee’s came along, people weren’t coming downtown. They were going to Southern Antiques and Lott Furniture.”
Being one of the oldest businesses in Downtown Laurel is a hard job. They help steer the direction of Laurel and encourage new businesses to persevere when the shopping seasons are dry or faced with change. With decades of experience and knowing Laurel like the back of its hand, Lott Furniture is everyone’s wise, old great-grandfather in a way. Leading and challenging the rest of the community to keep working and building an even more beautiful city for future generations.
Keri and Laekin have made it their mission to be the change and build a lasting, giving attitude that will permeate the generations to come.
“I want to inspire young people to stay in Laurel. If everybody leaves, it’s not going to grow. It’s not going to become anything better. We need creative people, accountants, teachers, part-time workers. We need them all! Especially young people. If we can take care of who we have and draw others to be a part, it’ll grow and transform. It’s already happening, but you got to stick around long enough to see it happen.”
“I think being somebody that grew up in a business setting, I can understand and relate to all of the other downtown merchants that are here. Even though I’m young and don’t have all the experience that they do, I feel like there are some things I can contribute. I like to post on social media about other businesses and things to do in Laurel. So maybe somebody in Laurel will feel included and excited to go see and be part of those things.”
We are beyond thankful to have Keri and Laekin as our neighbors. Their welcoming spirit and dedication to local businesses prove that each generation has a role to play in the rising of a town.
Be sure to follow Lott Furniture at @lottfurnitureco and visit lottfurnitureco.com to learn more information about the Scotsman American Heirloom and LMCo. Home furniture line available right here in Laurel, Mississippi.