Retail Returns To Pass Christian

It's been a long time since the people of Pass Christian have been able to shop for clothes, electronics, and beauty products without leaving the city limits. That all changed on Thursday when Family Dollar became the town's first retailer to open since Katrina.

The district manager says the store went under water during the storm, but the company was determined to stay in Pass Christian.

"Eighteen dollars for a radio," read Sammie Barnes from the sales paper.

He spotted what he wanted to buy at his hometown Family Dollar even before the store was ready to sell it to him. In his excitement to see the store reopen, he showed up early.

"You don't have to go way down to Gulfport and Long Beach to do your shopping now," said Barnes. "You can shop right here."

When the doors finally swung open, customers eagerly headed down the aisles. They wasted little time filling their shopping carts.

Dina D'Aquin bought, "Everything. Cleaning products. Toiletries. You name it, I need it all."

Residents like Dina D'Aquin are eager to support the store because they believe it's a sign of what Pass Christian has to look forward to.

"It means that the Pass will rebuild and we're coming back," said Pass resident Leonard Lawton.

Pass Christian officials like the sound of cash registers. The added sales taxes is a step forward in the recovery of the local economy.

Alderman Chip McDermott said, "Most of the time when places open, you wish them well. When they open now, we thank them.We thank them for opening and not just wish them well. We thank them for getting back in our town."

Even with all the damage from Katrina, Family Dollar says the company needed to be here to help people with limited options.

"Most of the major retailers, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, they're gone. So there's no one to service the business down here and the people living in these homes," District Manager Andrew Gibbs said. "It's so important to get back and help the community and let them know that we're here to serve them."

Sammie Barnes left the check out line a happy man. He was happy to have his new radio and happy to have spent his dollars in his own community.

The Family Dollar store is on West North Street. Alderman Chip McDermott says several business either have, or are in process of, moving into that area.