Cruisers Have A Big Impact On Small Towns

Hungry cruisers line up for a South Mississippi dining experience. Shopaholics eye the bargains. And it all adds up to big profits for small businesses.

"Of course, this is a very slow time of year for all restaurants, businesses. And this is really our last big hurrah until we kind of just go to sleep 'til Mardi Gras," restaurant manager Cheryl Hawkins said.

Mary McLaurin co-owns a deli and grocery store in the Depot District, directly across the street from the Cruisin venue. She and others merchants expect to double, maybe triple daily profits this week.

"These people I've been dealing with for over ten years now, I know most of them. I've watched their children grow up. It's a village that comes back here every year, so I look forward to seeing them all over and over again," McLaurin said.

Even the monogram business next door is benefiting, as some cruisers spell out their pride.

"Some of the ladies like to have their tote bags with the name of their car, different ideas. People will bring you shirts to put the names. I can monogram just about anything," shop owner Courtney Pitalo said.

But for the business owners, Cruisin is more than just about making money. It's also about having fun.

"It's just a really nice event where everybody can come. Great music, great food. There's shopping from here to Old Town, all along the Gulf Coast. What more could you ask for?" McLaurin said.

Cruisin the Coast runs through the weekend. Click here to see a schedule of events and maps to all the venue locations.