When Bobbie Marascalco decided to open a store along Washington Street, she had no previous retail experience. But over the years, the Vicksburg native has learned what it takes to thrive and be successful.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the downtown Marascalco, Peterson business.
Marascalso, who owns Peterson with her husband, Dr. Charles Marascalco, and sister, Logan Peay, was a nurse 20 years before the company opened. It just happened, she said, that she got involved in running the business.
âWe owned the building and the people who rented it moved out,â Marascalco said. So the question has been asked, what do we do now?
âI didn’t know how to find a tenant. It’s a big building, âshe said. âSo since Charles and I retired and Logan didn’t have a permanent job at the time, we were like, ‘Let’s just open a store.’â
Marascalo said at the time that they did not have a retail business plan, knowledge or training.
âIt was just something we did,â she said.
Initially, when the store opened at 1400 Washington St., it was called Peterson’s Art and Antiques. Peterson was Marascalo and Peay’s maiden name.
Like the previous tenants, who operated an antique store with vendors renting a stall, the trio decided to do something similar.
Marascalco said it has flipped through national and regional magazines and found sellers interested in moving into their building. Along the way, they also acquired works by local artists including Ann Biedenharn Jones and BJ Crawford.
As it grew, more and more local artisans became interested in the idea of âârenting a space to display their wares and culinary specialties. However, while vendors rented space, Marascalco said, the store was not set up in booths like tenants had previously done.
âIt wasn’t what I wanted. We could have business in an area, but there was no indication that I couldn’t put your thing here or someone else’s on your table, âshe said.
Peterson’s Art and Antiques continued to offer customers a variety of specialty items and now carries the Melissa and Doug line of toys.
Marascalco said she was introduced to educational toys in a market she frequented and, at the request of an aggressive sales representative, decided to put some in her store.
âThat’s why we got into toys. I never planned anything. Things just happened, âsaid Marascalco.
The store’s toy line grew and even became what she called a ‘niche’ for the store, which led Marascalco to abandon the ‘arts and antiques’ of the name and simply call the store ‘Peterson’s’. .
âWe had more toys and food than art and antiques,â Marascalco said.
Marascalco calls herself the âbig bossâ because she’s the one in the store. âI’m just telling them (her husband and sister) what I did,â she laughs.
Marascalco said she felt good to have reached this milestone with Peterson and thanked her employees, some of whom are almost there from the start.
âI couldn’t do this without all the people who worked here,â she said. âEveryone has been wonderful.â