Oil spill blamed for sinking sales of boats, marine supplies - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill blamed for sinking sales of boats, marine supplies

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Ken's Hardware and Marine Supply in downtown Gulfport has been in business for 20 years.  The owner said since oil started spewing into the Gulf, sales have dropped about 70 percent.

"They're scared of the oil and they hear the waters are closed.  Nobody wants to buy a boat or fishing pole or anything if they don't think they can use it.  It's real negative," said owner Ed Currie.  "If people can't go out on the boats and they can't fish, it's going to hurt me too."

Currie is relying on sales of safety equipment and gear to boaters who are working for BP contractors.

"We've been selling a lot of these marker buoys for the oil booms," he said as he pointed to a bunch of bright orange objects.

Supplies like anchors that hold booms in place, life vests, lights, and flares have been selling well.

"The boats that BP did put to work, they have to be Coast Guard certified.  So they're updating all their supplies.  But that's kind of a spurt.  Once they buy all that stuff, I don't think we'll have any business at all to tell you the truth," said Currie.

He has also stocked up on oil absorbent booms for property owners.

"We've always carried a few of them, but we stocked up a little heavy just in case that oil does come in here and people want to wrap their private boats, and yards and stuff like that," said Currie. 

Bay St. Louis fisherman Ba Van To bought a chain to repair his boat.  He has signed a contract with BP and is ready to go through training.

"I guess just work for BP," To said.  "As far as fishing, most of the areas are closed.  I'm just getting my boat ready and waiting until they call me to go to work, cleanup or anything they need."

Currie said his business will pick up, if BP puts more boaters, both commercial and recreational, to work.  And he is worried about what could happen to the fishing industry, if the oil comes closer to Mississippi.

"Oh, it will be a disaster.  It really will. The whole gulf coast will be screwed up," said Currie.

Several business owners have also been repairing boats for people who are involved in the oil disaster response.  However, they say business has been very slow this week.

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