Nail Biting Time For Small Merchants

When it comes to serious Christmas shopping, Melissa Webb and her mother Lucy Thompson wouldn't dream of passing up the festive shops in Ocean Springs. Melissa now lives in Tennessee...but she says she always comes home to browse and buy those special gifts. "I live about 8 hours away in a charming town very similar to Ocean Springs but I've saved my money to come shop at these stores because I knew they'd have just what I wanted," says Webb.  That's music to store manager Laura Telarico's ears. She says they try to have something for everyone. "We try to have a little different things than the shops in the mall and things, a huge selection and it's just really important for us to do well," she says.

Shop owners have seen booming Christmas seasons and lean ones.  They count on repeat customers like Kathy West to help keep the registers ringing during this busiest time of the year. West is a regular at Miner's Toy Store. She's wrapping up all her gift buying for her grandkids.  "They have the unique toys and anybody can shop at the chains. I like this, I come here every year." That return business keeps owner Mary Alice Miner constantly restocking and rearranging the shelves. Business she says has been so far, so good. "Very optimistic, looks good."   Miner can only hope it stays that way right through Christmas. "We've had a very steady's, for about a month it's been very steady and I don't know what to anticipate as far as getting wild and crazy goes. I know we're running out of some things," says Miner.

As time runs out on another holiday season, small shopowners hope they can chalk it up as a merry one.