GULFPORT -- Two retailers this week join the restaurateurs and professionals who have set up shop in downtown Gulfport, drawn by historic restoration after Hurricane Katrina.
Both shops -- Gorman the Jeweler and Islander Outfitters -- are on 14th Avenue and owned by experienced retailers.
The Gulfport Main Street Association is working to bring more retail downtown, Executive Director Laurie Toups said.
Downtown, she said, "retailers have access to some of the largest business employers on the Coast, like Hancock Bank and Mississippi Power."
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The original Islander Outfitters opened two years ago in downtown Ocean Springs. Gorman the Jeweler operated from 1987 to 1990 on Pass Road.
Frankie Adams, owner of Islander Outfitters, said he looked as far away as Hattiesburg and Mobile, plus all along the Coast, for a second location. The atmosphere in Gulfport, he said, reminded him of Ocean Springs, with plenty of foot traffic and a historic vibe.
He said the business owners support one another. Adams has been trying to do his part, enjoying meals next door at Tony's Brick Oven Pizzeria.
Islander sells clothing and accessories for surfers, skaters, fishermen and other outdoors enthusiasts. Adams, who was born and raised in Ocean Springs, said he always wanted to find an outdoors shop that offered more than fishing clothes and gear.
The retailer even has its own brand of T-shirts and fishing shirts featuring designs by local artists.
"There's nothing like us over in this area," he said. The store officially opens Friday.
A few doors down, Gorman Newman is behind the counter at Gorman the Jeweler. He has been open since Monday. He had moved away from Gulfport years ago, working most recently as a jeweler in Panama City Beach, Fla.
He said he wanted to move home because his family is here. He did not realize how much downtown Gulfport had changed for the better until he visited two years ago while he was in town for his 35-year reunion at Gulfport High School.
When he moved back home, he started getting calls from old customers who needed jewelry repairs. He worked out of his house for a while, but kept getting requests to reopen a shop. When the downtown space became available, he took it right away.
He sells traditional and vintage jewelry, cuff links, unique gifts and Zsolnay, which is hand-painted Hungarian porcelain. Prices range from $10 to $14,000.
Newman also has 36 years' experience in jewelry repair.
"The response has been incredible," he said. "People were tickled to see a retail shop come back downtown."