BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The doors to the new Stein Mart were set to open Thursday at 10am. But customers were so anxious, General Manager Ralph Speede decided to open a little early and the cash registers quickly started ringing.
"We opened up Tuesday, just for the soft opening, just turned the key in the locks and business was phenomenal," Speede said. "It was probably what we had triple that day last year at the other location."
Store officials decided to make the two mile move from Pass Road to Beach Boulevard in hopes of catching traffic from the mall and Walmart, but also out of towners cruising the beach.
"We've seen in the last couple of days the amount of Louisiana and Alabama license plates and that's the business we felt like we could tap into," Speede said.
This is welcome news, not just for the company, but also to Biloxi Mayor AJ Holloway, who we spotted browsing the store with his wife.
"We are not back where we were before the last hurricane we had, so this is going to be an increase in the sales tax that we get," Holloway said. "We have opened up a new store every week now somewhere in the city. So we are looking forward to this Stein Mart doing a good business here."
The mayor said the city budget has been tight for a couple of years now, but an increase in sales tax is helping ease the city's financial stresses.
"I think things may be turning around now. It looks like the last three months we have been over a million dollars the city of Biloxi has received in sales tax. And I think this is going to bump it up pretty good, too," Holloway said.
"I would be surprised if we didn't double business between the two locations, just by virtue of being right here," Speede said.
While most guests think the new store is bigger, Speede says it is actually 8,000 square foot smaller, but they were able to arrange the store to fit more merchandise.