Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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An MSNBC crew follows Mayor Jimmy Ramage and JJ Ramberg on a tour Tuesday in downtown Brundidge.

Brundidge shares secrets of survival with MSNBC

Lights and cameras from the big city have made their way to Small Town, USA.

MSNBC is in Brundidge taking the temperature on Main Street in an effort to know how this small town in rural South Alabama is surviving.

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MSNBC’s “Your Business” is devoted to helping small business owners grow and survive. One way to do that is to travel across America asking, “What is your secret?” “What do you know?” “How do you survive on Main Street in small town America?”

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Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage walks across Main Street with MSNBC “Your Business” host JJ Ramberg.

Frank Silverstein, “Your Business” producer, and JJ Ramberg, show host, are in Brundidge asking those questions of Main Street business owners. What the survivors had to say will be aired on “Your Business” at a date to be announced.

Silverstein said Brundidge will be the second show in the series that targets Main Streets in towns that are surviving during very difficult economic times.

Brundidge has Google Map to thank for bringing MSNBC “Your Business” to town.

“I was looking for a small town in the South that had a Main Street,” Silverstein said.

“With a population of about 2,000 and a banker who is the mayor, Brundidge was an interesting choice.”

Silverstein visited with Mayor Jimmy Ramage on Monday and kind of took the pulse of the town.

Early Tuesday morning, Ramberg was in the chair at Stinson’s “barber shop,” which has been in business on Main Street since around 1934. The late Earl Stinson owned and operated the three-chair barbershop for 65 years. His children, Joe Stinson, Jimmie Jackson and Ann Webb, are carrying on the family tradition.

As she “worked” on her celebrity customer, Jackson shared her desire, and that of her siblings, to keep the barbershop open “in memory of our dad” and “for the community.”

The shop is open only three days a week and Ramberg asked, “Is this a business or a hobby?”

Jackson explained, as retirees, she and her siblings treat the shop like a business but admitted, “I guess you could say, though, that it’s more of a hobby.”

Joe Stinson owned a hardware store when there were three hardware stores in town. But, competing with the big-box stores usually means coming up on the short end of the stick.

But the Stinson siblings are dedicated to their community and believe that Main Street, Brundidge will continue to survive.

Ramage said having MSNBC in town is a “big deal” for Brundidge.

“We are honored to be recognized as survivors in these very hard times,” he said.

Ramage took Ramberg on a walking tour of Main Street, which bears the mark of the woes of small town America.

“We have empty stores, too many of them,” Ramage said. “The downturn in the economy really has hit small towns hard. For a while, the Antique City theme brought new businesses and people to town, but we’ve lost most of the antique shops now. The Brundidge Business Association is talking about rebranding the city and we’re hopeful of moving in a different direction with that.”

The mayor said that he believes there is a future for small towns because they have a lot of offer.

“We are fortunate that we have businesses and industries that provide jobs and business owners that are committed to our community,” Ramage said. “Small towns can survive when people work together and pull together. That’s how we are surviving.”

MSNBC’s “Your Business” airs at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.