Beachgoers here on the Coast aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of the toxic algae bloom. One Biloxi souvenir shop has continued to see a decrease in sales which is believed to be linked to the beach closures.
Empty aisles in the distance and not a lot of talking to drown out the store music, that’s the not-so-normal scene in Sharkheads Souvenir Shop on this July day. Owner JJ Pierotich said, “What I’ve seen this past week. It seems like the dead of winter, I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
With Sunday’s closure of Pascagoula Beach east and west, all 21 Coast beaches are under water advisories due to the toxic algae bloom. Pierotich tells News 25 these advisories are directly affecting his business. “Monday, we were down 35-40% in cash flow in one day. This is the last month of our season because school starts the first week of August. So, there’s no making it up.”
While Pierotich knows he can’t control the reopening of the beaches, he does question the state’s response to the spread of the algae bloom. “The beach is our biggest asset and to have it literally on national news say that the beach is closed 100 percent. It just makes me wonder if we overreacted with the way it was put out in there. I would hope that the governor would maybe send a task force down here to try and get this over with, to try to help us down here. This is not good for any of us in the tourism business.”
Pierotich and his family have operated Sharkheads and Souvenir City for the past 42 years, making it a well-known staple in the Biloxi community. Pierotich hopes that recognition will be reason to pay attention to what he has to say. Vincent Creel with the City of Biloxi said, “Souvenir City is an icon and that was one of the big things after Hurricane Katrina, people saw that shark head, just like they saw the Biloxi Lighthouse. So, when the Pierotiches start talking about something and complaining, you sit up and take notice.”
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