Kemper Store Re-Opens After Tornado

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Coy, Miss. "We lost a part of our community I guess you'd say."

That's what Corey Luke said of Cheatham's Mini Mart after it was badly damaged by a tornado in April 2011. Cheatham's Mini Mart had been a landmark in the small community of Coy in Kemper County since 1976, and residents had missed its convenience for the past 2 years, but now, the Luke family has brought it back.

"We decided to open it back up. We approached Mr. Cheatham in December and bought this property, bout the store property, and bought some land that adjoins this place, and we're cattle farming and running the store, and it's a learning experience."

Several locals who frequented Cheatham's made their way to Luke's for opening day and are excited to have it back, even though it's owned by new people and has a new name. They say it's not only a good location, but just the fact that it's back has raised their spirits.

Coy resident Ernestine Rogers says, "I'm just so happy to see them come back into the neighborhood since the storm, and it's near us. It's a landmark, so if people are coming in, we can direct them where to stop in case they get lost coming to the community."

Luke says rebuilding hasn't been easy. After purchasing the land back in the winter, he began the long process of procuring loans and coming up with a business plan with some help from East Central Community College.

"We wrote a small business plan. It took us 2 weeks to do that, and took us about 4 weeks to get the loan approved. From there, the weather went South on us. Back in February and March it rained a lot, and then I'd say starting in April we started really kicking off things."

Luke hopes his store, just like Cheatham's will be a community landmark for many years to come.