GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - While countless businesses across the world struggle to make ends meet, Pottery Place in Gautier is raking in business like never before.
Most customers say the paint-your-own pottery shop, nestled in the heart of Gautier, is a fun activity that won't break the bank. Owner Angela Allen thinks that's why customers are flocking here, especially now.
"We have had such an increase this year, we've been very excited about it," Allen said. "People that come in, they'll just look around and say to me, 'Wow, this is really, really affordable.'"
Marisol's Dress Shop in Singing River Mall is having a similar experience. More people are shopping locally, even for that once-in-a-lifetime dress.
"More people have been coming in for dresses, and it's definitely been an increase since last year," said Manager Courtney Davis. "People don't want to spend as much money on dresses, so they come here where we have cheaper prices compared to the other places, and it's closer to home."
That's music to the ears of mall vendors.
"The mall hasn't had much business lately, it's been slower," Davis said. "So its good that people are shopping closer to home and bringing more people into the mall."
Both Allen and Davis think the upswing could be part of an unexpected twist in this economic crisis. It's breath of fresh air for city government. March sales tax revenue for the city of Gautier was $204,462. That's up more than 17 percent from last March's revenue of $168,593.
"I think this happened during the gas crisis, when gas prices went so high," said City Manager Sidney Runnels. "They may have discovered Gautier. That you can buy some things here that they thought they could not."
Runnels said he didn't expect such high revenue for March. He said sales tax revenue is the primary income for the city, and will go toward maintaining roads, continuing recovery projects, and other basic city operations.
"I hope it continues," Runnels said. "We're going to do our part in trying to do that. And we just encourage, again, for people to shop in Gautier."
Business owners seem confident the trend will continue.
"It's just right here and you can just do things at home, just as well and just as fun as you could do somewhere else," said Allen. "And you're saving a little bit of money."
Runnels said he was extremely appreciative of everyone who is shopping at home during these hard times.