BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Jeremy Hefner is one of the countless people who couldn't wait for another chance to walk through those massive jaws at the entrance of Sharkheads.
"It's so cool that they rebuilt it back. Katrina totally wiped it out, but it's totally cool that they re-did it right back in the same spot," Hefner said.
For the iconic South Mississippi company, anything other than same spot wasn't an option. Sharkheads has been wowing tourists and locals alike since 1977.
After sustaining heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina, it was either sink or swim. True to the nature of its Mascot, Sharkheads didn't give up without a fight.
"It's probably all I know. Having forced retirement, I was 49 when the storm hit. Just having no purpose in my life, the kids were still in college. I just needed to do what I know how to do again. We lost everything. We had water in our houses, we had two stores on the beach and of course the whole town lost everything. It's been a slow process rebuilding and a wonderful journey," Owner J. J. Pierotich said.
Already the souvenir shop collecting new fans from all over. Each of them glad the business was able to propel its way back to the top.
Patty Stratman of Loveland, CO, is an example. She and her husband were immediately attracted to the store's unique entrance. What was intended to be a quick stop, turned into much more.
"This is magnificent. My husband is in the car, and I called him and said,'It's going to take more than five minutes, honey. Take a nappy pooh,'" Stratman said.
Hefner, just as intrigued, feels the same way. He traveled all the way from Jackson with a mission to see the revamped shop. He says Sharkheads coming back sends a powerful message for the entire state.
"That means a whole lot for it to come back to the exact same spot. It shows that we can bounce back, baby. We can take your punches, and we can keep on coming," Hefner said.