Entrepreneurs still taking a chance

The Office co-owner Chris Collier
The Office co-owner Chris Collier
Lee Tracy boutique in Ocean Springs
Lee Tracy boutique in Ocean Springs

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The corner of Government and Washington in Ocean Springs is a hub of retail activity.  It's also a place where new businesses are born.

Lee Tracy, an upscale boutique for women, is one of those businesses. Owner Katie Hinkel re-opened the store after a four and a half year hiatus and an investment of $200,000. She feels her business plan will bring long term success.

"Our customer service, we hope, sets us apart from some of the other retail establishments around the coast," Hinkel said.  "You're always going to get a friendly welcome when you're in here."

Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina washed away Hinkel's store in the Grand Casino. But there was never a doubt in her mind that she would spend the time, money and effort to come back to the coast and re-open the store.

"We just felt like it was the right time... Enough time had passed and we were ready and this location came available, so we just jumped on it."

But with people watching every dime they spend these days, is Hinkel concerned?

"You're always nervous, but you've got to have a positive attitude and know that you'll come out on top."

Two doors down, The Office Lounge is open for business. Josh Rimes and Chris Collier, along with a third investor, spent about $100,000 building their dream. The relaxing and casual atmosphere is a great place to wind down after a hard day at work.

Collier said the decision to open a business in these uncertain times was surprisingly easy.

"I felt like we secured a good location. I felt like we had a good concept and I knew the people at the city would support us, so it was a no-brainer for us," Collier said.

Plus, Rimes said, the lounge has a secret weapon in its business playbook.

"Football season, and we have all Direct TV and Sunday Ticket and all of the college games, so we feel that business is only going to get better," Rimes said.

And getting better, and growing a business from scratch is what the spirit of entrepreneurship is all about.

Also worth noting, a new business isn't just good for the owners.  It also helps the coast economy by putting people to work. Hinkel has hired eight part time employees at her store, while The Office has given jobs to seven people.

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