Heather Eason’s business, Buy a Barricade LLC, was born of her experience as captain with the Ocean Springs Carnival Association.
Last year, the need for barricades at the city’s Mardi Gras night parade became apparent during the post-parade evaluation, conducted by city officials, police and organizers.
Police said if they had more barricades, they could worry less about children falling in front of floats and could focus more on crowd control, Eason said.
That started her thinking.
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“How can we come up with more barricades?” she said, and her idea was to offer businesses a chance to help, as well as advertise.
They buy a street barricade and donate it to the city, inscribed with their advertising.
Every time we turn around, she’s up to a new number, and I think, ‘Go Heather.’
Ocean Springs Alderman Mike Impey
The ad is a metal plate, laminated to protect the artwork from sun damage. The cost is $400.
Since last spring, Eason has sold more than 100 barricades. And calls are coming in more frequently.
Business owners like that it ties their business to an event and to the city. And it’s all Coast manufacturing. The 8 1/2-foot barricades are built in Pass Christian and galvanized in Moss Point, and the signs are from an Ocean Springs shop.
Eason said some people buy signs to honor a loved one or make announcements about city issues.
She tells her customers, “Your one-time purchase will last for years and be exposed to thousands of people.”
The owner of the clothing store Bayou Belle saw the one she bought at the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. She said she was surprised at how pleased she was, Eason said.
Alderman Mike Impey was skeptical, but said he figured the city had nothing to lose in approving her plan.
“I’m thinking, ‘Are businesses going to put out that kind of money for a barricade that would go to parades?’ ” he told the Sun Herald.
It turns out that they have.
“I just didn’t have the foresight she had,” Impey said. “Every time we turn around, she’s up to a new number, and I think, ‘Go Heather.’ ”
There’s no down side to it for the city, he said. It means Ocean Springs doesn’t have to borrow as many from other cities.
Alderman Matt McDonnell bought some and put Ocean Springs scenes on them, Eason said. Alderman Greg Denyer’s will have public-service announcements.
Last week, a man bought one to honor his late wife, whom he lost to cancer.
Idea fits city
“Going out with the signs on them fits perfectly with the whole Main Street community thing we’ve got going on in Ocean Springs,” Eason said.
When the signs debuted at Cruisin’ The Coast, they were on only one side.
Since then, she has approached the city to approve signage on both sides. Any changes require permission, because the finished product belongs to the city.
“People are hearing about them and wanting to buy them,” Eason said. “I can have one made in a week.”
But is there a future for this product?
Well, think of this, she said. From The Office bar at Washington Avenue to the Mississippi Juke Joint on Pine Drive, it takes 1,400 barricades to line both sides of Government Street.
Ocean Springs now owns about 500.
And she’s looking at expanding to other cities.
“I love it,” she said. “I think it has so much potential.”