Could the current financial crisis be worse than Katrina, oil spill?

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Whether you call it another recession, or a deepening recession, small business owners are worried. Some Bay St. Louis merchants told WLOX News, that survival may be impossible.

"The comeback has come to a crash," said Pam Collins, who owns a gift shop on Main Street in old town Bay St. Louis.

After rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, weathering the national economic storm and bouncing back from the BP oil disaster, she fears the country's current financial crisis could sink her business.

"We are down from the last couple of days, from July through yesterday, about 50 percent over what we were last year, which is pretty bad if you add in that last year was the oil spill," Collins said.

Collins said her customers are already holding on to their money.

"The fear is mounting, because that's all you hear when you turn on radio, television. It's almost like every time the media makes a statement, everybody tightens their wallets even more."

Collins knows paying the mortgage and buying food is a higher priority than gifts and trinkets.

"Some gifts are necessities, but the amount that's spent on the gift is diminished."

Rebecca Diaz's kitchen store is full of merchandise, but short on customers.

"If the economy goes into a recession again, then people aren't coming to spend money, people aren't coming from other places to visit, and that's a scary thought," Diaz said.

She said the shaky economy makes a new shop like hers vulnerable.

"It's very unsettling to a lot of people. And given the way things have been fluctuating with the market, just the not knowing makes people not want to spend."

But she's prepared to roll with the punches.

"If things do start to slow down, I'm going to have to get more inventory in that's at a lower price point. Then you have to work harder to sell more and it makes it difficult, but that's just something, if it comes to that, I will do it. Absolutely," Diaz explained.

The business owners we talked with said community events, like the upcoming Second Saturday in the Bay, always bring a boost, but that one day a month isn't enough.

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