Pass Christian Business Owners Ready For "War"

Business owners and city leaders met in Long Beach Thursday night to get advice from a marketing expert, Dr. Bill Smith from USM, on how to prepare for Wal Mart's arrival.

The new Supercenter will be built along Highway 90 in Pass Christian near the Long Beach border. It will have a tan and red color scheme, instead of the traditional blue and white, in an attempt to blend in with the community. But how will small specialty stores survive the saturation of what analysts call "the big box".

Donna Heath of "Home Decor" in Long Beach hopes to survive the change by empowering herself with knowledge.

"We want to learn to do new things for our businesses in town to grow and expand. And Dr. Bill Smith, we're hoping, is going to give us some new marketing ideas and concepts to attract our Long Beach citizens to shop with our Long Beach merchants," Heath says.

Dr. Bill Smith told the crowd of about a hundred business owners, "You've got to think of it as a war. This is in your face. There are going to be some opportunities, so don't think they got all the guns... Businesses exists around these "big box" people all the time."

Thursday's seminar was hosted by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. Another small business forum will be held September 24th at 6pm at USM's Gulf Park Campus. For more information call Millie Olcott at 863-6666.