Black Friday in Bay St. Louis

By Al Showers - bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Not all Coast residents made a mad dash to the large malls in search of bargains Friday. Many people opted to start their Christmas shopping off of the beaten path at small mom and pop shops. For small business owners, the holiday shopping season is a vital part of their over-all yearly profits.

In Old Town Bay St. Louis the sounds of cash registers rang-out on the official start of the Christmas shopping season. Tom and Sarah Evans are getting a jump on their Christmas shopping in downtown Bay St. Louis. The couple is from Atlanta, but they are visiting relatives in the Bay during the holiday weekend. They say they plan to purchase most of their gifts at independently owned shops.

"We're looking for some more unique gifts than what they might offer at the mall. We want something eclectic that everyone won't be getting from the mall," Sarah Evans said.

Tom Evans said, "This is a great place to find different unique pieces of art or sculptures or what have you. This particular gallery represents local artists, so the folks that work here are typically the artists. You get the history of why they painted what they painted."

The personal attention you get during the downtown shopping experience is another reason the Evans and others say they avoid the large chair stores.

Debra Patterson from Louisiana said, "It's not near as crowded. We have lots of family in town, so we can just come and take our time and browse and find some unique gifts here."

For the shop owners the Christmas shopping season is vital.

Owner of Maggie May's Gifts Nancy Moynan said, "It probably makes up at least 40 percent of our yearly sales."

Owner of Magnolia Antiques Glenda Schornick said, "Things were a little slow around here in August and September because of bad weather, so we're really counting on the holiday season to kind of bring us back to where we need to be."

Shop owners say if Black Friday is any indication of what's to come they expect to fair well this Christmas holiday shopping season. Over the next month participating shops throughout Hancock County will open their doors until 8:00pm on Thursdays, as part of the Chamber of Commerce "Shop At Home Campaign."