Black Spring Break Means Big Bucks For Some Coast Businesses

Rebekah Allen manages a Domino's Pizza Restaurant in Biloxi. During Black Spring Break last year, she helped sell more than 1,000 pizzas from a trailer set up at the Coast Coliseum grounds.

"It was great. We had hundreds of people lined up at times, waiting for pizzas," Allen said.

She expects to make plenty of dough this weekend, too.

"We're just trying to get all our food preparation ready. We're bringing in trailers and trying to set them up. We're also getting our team members psyched and ready to work long hours."

Gulfport convenience store owner, Johnny Buckley, is also preparing for the crowds.

"I'm just getting ready, ordering more beer, more soft drinks, more chips, and of course lots of gas," Buckley said.

Buckley says business increased 4 percent during Spring Break last year, and he expects a bigger jump this year.

"Last year, most of the crowds were in Biloxi. But, I feel like this year they're going to travel more towards Gulfport because they're talking about going to New Orleans. So, I'm sure we're going to get a lot more traffic."

Several businesses have put up signs welcoming spring breakers to the Gulf Coast. Tourism officials say convenience stores and fast food restaurants were the big money makers over the three-day event.

But some businesses say they actually lost money, especially the casinos. Beverly Martin is the executive director of the Casino Operators Association.

"The police are doing the best they can. But, with the traffic plan laid out the way it is, it really made it hard for the casinos to be accessible to people," Martin said. "Also, your locals don't really want to get caught in the traffic."

But that traffic is good for business owners like Johnny Buckley.

"It's something to look forward to," Buckley said. "I'm looking forward to the extra business."

As for venders coming in specifically to sell things to the spring break visitors, Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver says he's had only a handful of inquiries. But, Weaver says only two of them are serious applicants.

Tourism officials say it's hard to predict the economic impact of Black Spring Break this year, because they're not sure how many people are going to come to the Coast.