Peter Anderson festival pumps art and money into Ocean Springs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Peter Anderson festival pumps art and money into Ocean Springs

With anywhere from 100,000 - 150,000 expected to attend the festival, business owners say they are ready for the crowds. (Photo source: WLOX News) With anywhere from 100,000 - 150,000 expected to attend the festival, business owners say they are ready for the crowds. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Because of the amount of traffic expected, The Inn is opening their gift shop during the festival. (Photo source: WLOX News) Because of the amount of traffic expected, The Inn is opening their gift shop during the festival. (Photo source: WLOX News)
OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

The holiday shopping season is still a few weeks away, but don't tell that to merchants in downtown Ocean Springs.

With the Peter Anderson Arts Festival set to begin, business owners are eagerly awaiting the thousands of potential shoppers that will descend on the city.  

As many as 150,000 people are expected to cram the downtown streets for the two day festival, which begins Saturday morning.

In addition to the downtown shops, more than 400 vendors will be set up on the streets. Store owners and managers say Peter Anderson is one of the biggest weekends they have all year, and it contributes mightily to the business bottom line.

“Peter Anderson is a really big weekend for our business. It always has been. We spend weeks prepping for it, making sure the store looks great, making sure we have what the people want,” Hillyer House manager Susannah Snyder explained.

Another downtown business, The Inn, expects to be full.

“It's just a huge way to create awareness,” manager Kristin Smith said. “We have folks coming by all day long. We hand out our rack cards. In a weekend, we can hand out up to 1,500 rack cards.”

Timing is everything, and that's why The Inn's gift shop is now up and running.

Smith added, “We're launching it during the Peter Anderson weekend. So we're really kind of excited to show it off.”

City leaders say 100,000 to 150,000 people crammed into downtown looking at what the stores have to offer is good news. According to Cynthia Sutton with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce, the event has an economic impact of $23 million for Ocean Springs and Jackson County. 

And while not everyone makes a purchase, business owners say that's OK.

“We'll have people coming in for the next six to eight months saying 'we heard about your shop from friends who came by during Peter Anderson,' or 'we saw it during Peter Anderson and didn't have time to come in but now we're coming back because we know what you have.' So it's free advertising for us and it's great for the whole city of Ocean Springs,” said Duncan Perkins, manager of Tri-Hard Sports. 

City officials will begin blocking off several of the downtown streets late Friday night in preparation for the festival, which opens Saturday at 9 a.m.

In addition, the tourism organization, Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast will be conducting a new economic impact study on the festival during its 2015 run.

Click here to view a schedule of festival events.

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