BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Shop owners in Old Town Bay St. Louis say they've had a banner year so far during holiday sales.
Tourists and residents alike are enjoying what downtown has to offer. City leaders are looking forward to 2017, when they'll make a push for hotels to further development.
Bay St. Louis resident Joan Thomas says she prefers to shop locally for unique Christmas gifts.
"You do yourself a favor shopping locally," said Thomas. "Those tax dollars come back, and you get to help the local merchants."
Thomas says she's noticed more millennials and visitors taking advantage of downtown shopping perks.
"I've seen people of all ages walking in Old Town, frequenting the shops. Some have parcels and and some just walking around looking, but it appeals to everybody," Thomas added.
Mayor Les Fillingame says shop owners tell him sales are up, and popular pieces include things that can't be found at big box stores.
"Gift items, clothing, and souvenirs are always popular. We even have specialty shops now, like kitchen shops. Local art is always a hot item as well," Fillingame noted.
Fillingame adds that the service shoppers get when they head downtown is unlike anything at chain stores.
"The big appeal in Bay St. Louis is the charm of the people selling them things. The biggest asset Bay St. Louis has is the shop owners themselves," said the mayor.
Four boutique hotels have shown interest in setting up shop in Old Town, something Fillingame wants to make a priority.
"We really need places for people to stay, and I think that's one of the biggest missing links in Bay St. Louis," Fillingame noted.
The largest hotel that has shown interest would be 50 - 60 rooms, and would lend itself well to the ambiance that is already downtown.