GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - It was a big grand opening Wednesday for Gulfport’s newest retailer. Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is now open in the Handsboro Square shopping plaza.
Michael Burton was one of the very first customers to walk through the doors of the new store. He and his wife got in line hours ahead of the store’s 9 a.m. grand opening, hoping to snag some good deals.
“Oh yeah, we came for the TV. Definitely a bunch of deals though. She wants to get the blankets, and I want to come get the TV. That’s a good deal for a 50 inch. Definitely," he said.
Ollie’s is known for selling brand name merchandise at bargain prices, and the deep discounts already have customers planning to return.
“It was nice. It was fun. So I will be coming back. I will be shopping more," said Eliza Jefferson.
The store’s grand opening brought out more than just bargain shoppers. There were also baseball fans eager for the chance to meet Major League Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
“It’s a little overwhelming for an old retired baseball player to travel around and have a chance to meet people who still remember things about my era in the game," Molitor said. "And with Ollie’s opening a new store here, it seems people are pretty excited about that too.”
This is the fifth Ollie’s store in the state. It fills an empty space in the Handsboro Square Shopping Plaza where the old K-Mart and Rouses were.
“We planned to come to Gulfport for a while and just finding the right location was key for us, and we did find a great location as you can see, and we’re very excited about opening up in Gulfport," said Zack Shields, district team leader.
“It’s something new that’s coming in. Anything a new business comes in, I’m happy for the area, because that means we’re growing. Since Katrina, I’m glad anything anything new comes in," said Debbie Mcalpin.
Last year, developer Action Properties bought the entire strip and has been working hard to find new businesses to fill the plaza. Shoppers are pleased to see something being done.
“We need more stuff like this popping up in Gulfport to kind of get the businesses going on again, because there’s a lot of blank places out here, and we really need to bring the revenue back to this place, right here, on the Coast," Burton said.
Along with this new retailer, developers said a new Cajun restaurant is also coming to the shopping plaza at a later date.