Do cruisers help or hurt Ocean Springs businesses?

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Paige Riley oversees the Ocean Springs Downtown Merchant's Association.  While she says her business, Hiller House, has reaped benefits from cruisers' cash, there are some challenges to hosting such a large event downtown.

"When you close you down a street, it does make it more difficult for our local people to get to us," Riley said.

To address concerns business owners have with shutting down Washington and Government Streets, parking lots were opened up near downtown providing more parking options for shoppers. The city also kept many of the back streets open to provide better access to stores downtown.

Jeannie Stevenson, the owner of Salmagundi Gifts, said this year cruisers are already spending big.

"It's phenomenal, it really is. We do very well. We've had people who've come in today who say, 'This is our third year to come.'"

"We like the cars, but we like to go home with souvenirs from Salmagundi Gifts.  It's just wonderful," said Cheryl Phillips from Olive Branch, Mississippi.

And Cheryl's not alone. Many cruisers say they're spending, and some downtown businesses say they have the receipts to prove it.