Pass Merchants Helping Downtown Rebound

A hometown hardware store and nearby seafood shop are among the bright spots of small business recovery in Pass Christian.  It's another sign the downtown business district is slowly building back.

The pulse may be faint, but there is still life in the heart of downtown Pass Christian. Although several businesses have opened around War Memorial Park since the storm, other merchants remain confident in the more traditional downtown district.

Martin Hardware is back in business. The store with an old fashioned feel is a longtime fixture.

"Serving the Pass since 1932," said owner Doreen Grotkowski.

The store's re-opening delivers a message about downtown recovery and rebuilding.

"We heard stories of them coming in this store before the hurricane with their grand parents. And just loved coming in. And now they're so grateful that we're here again," she said.

Pass residents are happy for the return of their hometown hardware store. It's nearly impossible to tell the place was destroyed by the hurricane. New owners found themselves restocking shelves again.

"We had done this two years ago when it was empty. And now doing it again. Changed a few things around, because the walls were moved and so forth," said Grotkowski.

"Well, I'm going to have six ceiling fans," Darlene Kimball said, while directing a volunteer building an outdoor pavilion.

She's busy overseeing the rebuilding of the family seafood business on Second Street. Plans call for a place to buy fresh shrimp and oysters or eat a seafood po boy.

"We are trying to envision a bigger and better place. We are trying to rebuild our po boy shop and our fresh seafood market. We're going to have tables and chairs and an outside setting, underneath the pavilion we're building right now," Kimball explained.

The owner's outlook for her seafood shop may be a shared reflection about the future of downtown.

"Very promising. I'm very nervous about it. Excited about it. Scared. But I know it's going to do okay," Kimball said.

Along with the hardware store and seafood shop, several other businesses in the immediate downtown are in various stages of repair or rebuilding