Physical Fitness Businesses Help Fill Empty Shopping Center

A once vacant shopping center in Ocean Springs is now full. But the mix of new businesses might surprise you.

Most are not the kind of retailers you'd expect in a traditional shopping center.

You might say it's a physically active development.

"There you go," said the clerk as he handed a youngster a pair of roller blades.

A new skating rink is an anchor tenant of the transformed shopping center at Highway 90 and Bechtel Boulevard.

"The dream is just for the kids of Ocean Springs to have something to do," said owner Dean Lapoma.

Lapoma and his partners found the former Bailey Lumber Company building the perfect spot to pursue that dream. It took just a few weeks to build the fourteen thousand square foot skating surface and convert the space from lumber storage to roller blading.

"We had to take the support beams out of the middle of the lumber yard and replace them. And put kick beams up and everything. It was a job. But we did it in less than two months," he explained.

There is a definite recreation and leisure theme to the shopping center. Along with the Skate Zone, the tenants include a martial arts center, dance studio and World Gym.

But there's also a more traditional retailer that's part of the new mix.

"We're Hope Home Furnishing Gallery. We just opened up in October," said Jamie Powell, as she talked about the new business.

Someone tired from physical activities next door, can relax on a new sofa.

Powell has been in the home furnishings business for twenty years. The center is a prime location for visibility.

"We really like Ocean Springs. And this is in the center of Ocean Springs. And if you want to go anywhere in Ocean Springs, you have to come by here," Powell said.

"We just want more people to know that we're open. And come in and see what we have."

Parents can browse the furnishings gallery, while their kids strap on the skates a few doors down.