D'Iberville Mayor Will Close His Family Store; May File For Bankruptcy

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - D'Iberville's mayor may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection. Rusty Quave is shutting down his family's grocery store. Consequently, he may default on an SBA loan he got after Katrina to rebuild the grocery.

According to Quave, "In a three year period of time, we've lost our business twice."

The first time was right after Katrina. However, like so many others in similar predicaments, Quave received an SBA loan and rebuilt what he originally lost.

"I did what I could. I'm proud of what I've done," he said.

But on Tuesday, Quave's staff rang up just $500 in sales, 10 times less than a typical day. Christine Tovar is his store manager.

"We're not making enough money to keep the store open," she conceded.

Because of a sluggish economy, Quave is about to shut down a business he's run for 15 years.

"If you had a lot of capital to keep you going, then you'll stay afloat," Quave said. "But if you didn't have a lot of capital, if you were working on cash flow, then it's hard to compete in this economy now."

Quave originally thought Wednesday would be his last day in business. Tovar convinced him to keep the doors open.

"I told him we have food to sell. Why can't we sell it?" she said.

So while his staff worked the counter, the D'Iberville mayor worked the phones. He called SBA agents, and tried to come up with a way to save his family's grocery store.

"They're getting ready to turn my electricity off here. My bills. I've got to make a determination what I need to do," he told the SBA agent he reached on the telephone.

Between his mortgage and his SBA loan, Quave has almost a million dollars of debt tied up in his shop. He recently got a $100,000 insurance check. But that went right to the SBA loan. What he wanted was for the SBA to release that money, so he could pay down debts, and save his store. But he was told that wasn't possible.

"My wife said it best. She said Hurricane Katrina took our business, and now the SBA is going to take it again," said Quave.

He isn't bitter. But he says he is sad. After all, Quave's friends are about to lose a place to sit around and visit. And his two full time employees are about to be out of work because of a brutal storm, an unrelenting economy, and an unpayable loan.

WLOX News contacted the Small Business Administration office in Gulfport Thursday afternoon to see just how many people across the three coastal counties have defaulted on SBA loans since Katrina. The disaster assistance department has received our request. We're told that as soon as that information is compiled, it will be forwarded to us.