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Southern Turnings: One of the most...

Southern Turnings: One of the most unique business concepts in Mississippi

By: Mike Cashion - August 3, 2023

Southern Turnings in Wiggins represents the epitome of southern charm and hospitality. Every guest becomes an instant member of their “hometown” family.

Situated between Hattiesburg and Gulfport, the quaint town of Wiggins, Mississippi, is home to one of the most unique business concepts in the state.

Scott Maddox was born in Biloxi. After graduating from Auburn University, he was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force and spent 17 years as a hurricane hunter pilot. Jane Ann, his wife of 20 years, is a native of Wiggins and received a Masters degree in Science Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She enjoyed a successful career teaching in both high school and college classrooms.

In the spring of 2013, Scott and Jane Ann made a trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. It was there Scott met a young veteran who told him how woodturning was instrumental in dealing with his PTSD. As a veteran himself, Scott immediately related to the young veteran’s plight. Captivated by the process, Scott returned to Wiggins, bought a lathe and began learning the art of woodturning.

As the years went by, Scott and Jane Ann yearned for a place where people could come and relax, enjoy great food and beverage while watching him create an heirloom treasure. Small towns often present economic challenges to new business owners and downtown Wiggins was no exception. By combining three concepts under one roof, the Maddoxes hoped they could increase their chances of success.

In October 2017, they opened Southern Turnings. Anchored by a high-quality coffee shop, they added a gift shop that sells mainly Mississippi made products including jewelry, pottery and paintings. Local artists display their work and offer it for sale. These partnerships with local artists tie the community together and provides a venue for collaboration.

The third part of their concept is what makes Southern Turnings truly unique. Scott created an exhibition studio where people can watch him turn old pieces of wood into beautiful and functional pieces of art.

Their venture was not an instant success. Scott recounts a day shortly after they opened when he asked Jane Ann to go buy a Coke so that we would have a transaction for the day! Undeterred, they held fast to their faith.

“As with any business, there are the ups and downs and the anxiety of wondering whether you will make it through the challenges ahead. Each time I question or allow myself to worry, God steps in and brings me back to Him,” Scott said.

Most of the wood Scott turns is found locally. He has established a reputation where folks typically call about wood that may be available or simply drop off logs at the back of the store. Even in his work, his faith is evident.

“The wood I turn, for the most part, is highly distressed and damaged with a lot of character (according to my customers) and I enjoy taking the piece, restoring it and giving it a new purpose,” Scott added. “This is what I believe God does for us. He takes the sinful and damaged and makes us new again with a purpose to bring others to Christ.”

Though he has no shortage of raw product, keeping up with demand has been a challenge. Most of Scott’s finished turnings are sold before they ever come off the lathe. By limiting the amount of custom orders, he hopes to bolster his inventory for the gift shop.

Their perseverance and commitment have paid dividends. With sixty-five percent of their business from outside of Stone County, Scott and Jane Ann have turned downtown Wiggins into a tourist destination. The area is now thriving, and Southern Turnings will start its seventh year of operation in late October 2023.

While Scott offers a variety of individual or small group classes, his ultimate desire is to create a formal mentoring program for veterans with PTSD and for students interested in preserving the craft.

Southern Turnings represents the epitome of southern charm and hospitality. Every guest becomes an instant member of their “hometown” family. The friendships and relationships forged over the years are their greatest source of motivation and inspiration. For Scott and Jane Ann, the greatest reward is when a guest says, “You have made my day!”

Learn more about Southern Turnings by visiting their website here or stopping by in Wiggins at 145 Pine Avenue East.

About the Author(s)
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Mike Cashion

Mike Cashion spent the last 20 years at the helm of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association where he worked hand in hand with restaurants across the state with training, business development and marketing initiatives. Mike’s entire career was spent in the restaurant industry. From his start with Wendy’s in 1978, his experience includes corporate management, casino food and beverage operations, consulting and ownership of his own successful restaurant concepts. He retired in 2019 but still remains involved with the industry as a consultant.