New Black Owned Businesses Emerge Along The Coast

It's the American dream for many: Being your own boss. Now more and more African Americans are achieving that dream.

As Americans celebrate Black History month, one business owner is making living rooms beautiful one home at a time.

It's called Ethnic Art Gallery and it's located inside Biloxi's Edgewater Mall. The store was around before the storm but after Hurricane Katrina, the owner had to relocate. While the store's specialty is African American art, this new business has a little something for everyone.

"It's very unique. It's got some lovely things and gifts for your home and for others. It's really, really nice," says shopper Evelyn Necaise.

This is Necaise's first time in the Ethnic Art Gallery. The Bay St. Louis resident and her friend were strolling through Edgewater Mall when they came across the store. Both women say they are pleased to see any new businesses being built along the coast.

"We are just lacking in any place to go and shop. We need the business so badly particularly in the black community needs to be present to. They lost as well as we did on the front. So I'm glad to see this," says shopper Donna Hutchings.

Raymond Brown is the owner the store.

"After Katrina I think that it is very essential to have some black owned businesses in Mississippi. There aren't any black ethnic stores in Mississippi. You go to Atlanta, you go to all the other big cities and you will see other stores. You come home then you have to go back out to get your stuff," says Brown.

At 27, Brown says he wants to cater to the new generation of people moving to the coast. Brown says there is also growing Jamaican population on the coast, and he offers more than art to help them feel closer to home.

"We have a wide variety of Jamaican population here that came to work at the casinos. Here we don't have any Jamaican food and a lot of people don't carry Jamaican food but what we try to do is bring all of the Jamaican food here to provide for the Jamaican people. We feature a wide variety of stuff. We're not only focused on the black community, we're focused on everyone. If they are around town, we're here for them," says Brown.

In addition to the new store at the mall, the young business owner says that plans are in the works to open a Jamaican Restaurant. He says he will call it 'Cafe McCrazy' and it will have all the fixins like jerk chicken, oxtails and of course the Jamaican staple, goat. Throughout the month, WLOX will highlight other black owned businesses in South Mississippi.