BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Along the Coast in Biloxi on Sunday, it was a rare sight. Despite it being an extremely hot, final day of a long holiday weekend, the beaches were fairly empty. That’s bad news for beach vendors.
“Our business, it’s literally off almost 100 percent. We’re out here trying,” said Barney Foster.
Foster is the owner of Life’s a Beach Rentals. What’s typically one of his biggest tourism holidays, the Fourth of July, ended up being the worst this year. Harmful algae blooms forced beach closures all along the Coast, and many tourists found other ways to enjoy their holiday.
Foster said one of his locations barely made $150 on July 4. And he didn’t fare any better the rest of the long weekend.
“I realized real quick July’s our month. That’s when we make most our money. You lose Fourth of July, and starting off really bad, we might be shut down the whole rest of July,” he said.
Foster is selling equipment he usually rents out just to stay afloat this year. Along with having to lay off more than a dozen employees, he’s also closed one of his locations for the rest of the season.
“The first thing I realized was I gotta sell some stuff. So I started selling jetskis off, and those locations will not open this year, and I doubt - they might never reopen again,” he said.
Foster said he believes the risks of the algae bloom are minimal compared to the sacrifices he’s had to make because of the beach closures.
“I mean, I just want to ball up, and just - but you got to keep going. You can’t stop.”
Foster said he plans to shut down his location near the Biloxi lighthouse during the week, and operate only on weekends because of the slow business.