The owner of the new store says he found downtown Gulfport to be the perfect fit. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -
A new business is sparking talk of more retail development in downtown Gulfport. It is a specialty retailer with a familiar name. The store is just the start of the city's vision to create a "one-stop-shop" destination.
With a snip of a ribbon, Islander Outfitters officially opened its doors on 14th St. in downtown Gulfport. Inside, shoppers were already browsing through the racks.
"I'm just shopping for clothes and jewelry. They have a great selection here, so I'm really excited about it," said Libby Switzer.
The store sells clothing, gear and accessories for surfers, skaters, fishermen and others who love the outdoors. The owner said he looked around for a place to expand his business, and found downtown Gulfport to be the perfect fit.
"Usually, I have to drive all the way to Ocean Springs," said Libby Switzer. "But now it's really convenient that it's just downtown, and it's in a great area."
Tony Swigris, owner of Tony's Brick Oven Pizzeria, believes his new neighbor will help bring in more dough. He says his customers constantly ask what to do in downtown Gulfport.
"Getting more retail, more business, more traffic down here, it's great," said Swigris. "Gormon's Jewelers also opened up. We got the bank across the street, Trust Mark, they also opened up. So we're getting a lot more energy now on this side of 49 in downtown."
City leaders have worked to inject more variety into the area.
"Gulfport has become so vibrant downtown with our entertainment district. We've got bars and restaurants and businesses, but we have wanted retail to come back. And now, with the addition of this, I think there's more to come," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.
The latest addition brings the city closer to creating a destination where people can eat, shop, and live. City leaders are currently working to attract an upscale clothing boutique, as well as more residential construction, like upper floor housing.