Bay St. Louis Loses Another Business

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST LOUIS (WLOX) - The parking lot at a well known Italian restaurant is empty. The owner of Sicily's says he closed his Bay St. Louis location because of a lack of business.

Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre said, "It's another blow to us we lost several small businesses just in the last few weeks."

Sicily's, located in the Zapardo Shopping Center, was one of the city's largest restaurants.

Favre said, "About 20 employees, some full-time, some part times, but 20 employees are now out of work."

A few miles down the road in Waveland the gift shop, "That Cute Little Shop" will close its doors for good in about two weeks.

Gift Shop Owner Kathy Pinn said, "The economy over the last six months has just fallen, and people are just not spending as much."

Kathy Pinn has run her shop in Waveland for seven years. Her first location on Coleman Avenue was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, she relocated to Highway 90.

"Even though you get more traffic, it's not the kind of traffic that is usually attracted to my kind of shop. So not being in the old downtown really contributed to not having the business," said Pinn.

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo, "The small businesses are the back bone of our community. It's what drives our economy, so it bothers me greatly when I see them close down."

Mayor Longo says a lot of the lack of business is due to the loss of the major tourists attractions the city had before Katrina.

Longo said, "Buccaneer Park brought in close to a million visitors a year."

He says many of those visitors would spend money in small mom and pop businesses like Pinn's.

"We're working hard with the different agencies, the state agencies, to get those amenities and actions back open," Longo said.

Mayor Favre said, "With the price of gas as high as it is, it's hindering people's traveling opportunities and ability. They can't afford to do the traveling and when the people don't come ,that's more business that our businesses are losing."

Favre fears, the recent closings are just the beginning.

"Unfortunately, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. We've said since the storm that we need some help for our businesses. There's been some help going toward the homeowners, but nothing in particular for the businesses," Favre said.

Mayor Favre says his staff continues to lobby the MDA for relief for small businesses. Mayor Longo says his city is about to kick-off a $27-million downtown revitalization project. It aims to help small businesses stay in business and to attract new businesses into town.