A new business venture and family ties brought Kevin and Susan Ponds to Philadelphia after they purchased Saxon Motor Supply on Main Street.

While the name has been changed to Pearl River Outdoor Equipment, the owners kept most of the former brands of merchandise.

"It's been great," said Susan Ponds.

Susan and Kevin moved to Philadelphia from Jonesboro, Ark., to be closer to their aging parents.

They are native Mississip-pians, she from Collinsville and he, Meridian.

Susan spent the last 30 years as a homemaker while Kevin worked as an electrical engineer for Thomas & Betts.

She recalled how one night Kevin was looking on the Internet for businesses for sale in Mississippi.

"He saw this place [Saxon's] and asked if I wanted to come here to look," she said. "We came in and looked around and acted like customers."

Several things about the business attracted the couple, including the amount of traffic it saw as well as the employees.

Two weeks after making the decision to buy, the Ponds were the new owners of an equipment store.

"When we made the decision it was almost like now was the time to take advantage," Susan said.

Since opening on April 1, sales have been good, a trait Susan attributes to the season.

"We started during the busy season," she said, "and it doesn't seem as if the economy is too terrible here."

It also doesn't hurt that everyone keeps calling it Saxon's, Susan said.

"Ten times a day people call and ask for Saxon's," she said with a laugh. "We feel that will continue because the customers have been calling it that for years."

The name Pearl River Outdoor Equipment came after the previous owners barred the Ponds from using the Saxon name.

"The agreement was not to use Saxon Motor Supply as the name," Susan said, chuckling. "We were going to call it that originally."

They initially thought about S&K's, the Ponds' initials before they officially named it Pearl River Outdoor Equipment.

"We asked our two kids and their spouses to vote on it," Susan said.

Since opening, the Ponds have kept nearly all the original merchandise with the only change being the loss of Kawasaki brand items.

The Ponds replaced that with Kymco and Bad Boy brand equipment. Also being kept are the eight original employees.

"They stayed and they've been fantastic," Susan said. "We had no experience before in this kind of business.

"They've been so great and I feel we are doing well because of them."

The Ponds have also pitched in with Susan doing payroll and handling the money and Kevin doing "hands-on" work.

"It was so overwhelming at first," she said. "I felt like an idiot and still do. I've found it's easier to tell people I'm learning as I go."

Being newcomers to Philadelphia, the Ponds have been welcomed with open arms.

"The town has been very supportive," Susan said. "We've met so many people. We never knew a lot about Philadelphia. We love the square and the feel of the town.

"We're so happy to be back [in Mississippi]. We feel like we're home."