Clothing Store Closing Will Leave A Void

Wilbert Calmes has been helping customers at Brother John's Men's Shop since his brother's death in April.

The small Division Street store, he says, plays an important role in the black community and he wishes it didn't have to close.

"A lot of people have been inquiring about keeping it open and keep his name going and keep the business going, but to be frank with you, I'm lack of the experience to run a store," said Wilbert Calmes.

John Calmes grew up in Biloxi and after returning from military service, he opened the clothing store in 1974.

"During the time that he was looking for a building to put the store, he did not want to go down to the beach or nothing like that," Wilbert said.  "He wanted to stay in the black community."

Shoppers say the bright leisure suits and colorful shoes at Brother Johns are things they can't find anywhere else on the coast.

"He's going to be missed," said Johnny Grandberry, who has been shopping at Brother John's for 20 years.  "I'm going to miss him. He's going to be missed to the community as far as clothes. I've got to go out of town now to get what I want."

But, the closing of the store will also leave another void.

"People knowing each other," Wilbert says.  "A lot of time, people come here and just mingle just to have a conversation with him, you know, sit around and talk to him about his knowledge and stuff about the clothing business."

Calmes is hoping that someone will come forward and offer to buy Brother John's Men's Shop, so that the store and his brothers memory will live on in his community. He says a couple from Houston who is originally from the coast, has expressed an interest in purchasing the store. None of the details have been worked out yet.