Casino openings good news for other Coast businesses

Employees at Knight Abbey Printing in Biloxi work on social distancing signs that will be put...
Employees at Knight Abbey Printing in Biloxi work on social distancing signs that will be put up in Coast casinos before they re-open.(John Fitzhugh)
Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The cascading effect of casinos closing is working in reverse now as they prepare to re-open.

Coast companies that supply goods and services to casinos are happy to have that business back.

“I’m mailing a half a million pieces today because the casinos know they are opening and when. That’s huge. That’s huge for all of us,” said Jim Spiers of Knight Abbey Printing in Biloxi.

His workers have been working overtime to meet the demand not only from casinos on the Coast but across the country. In addition to mailing promotional material to casino patrons, he is supplying much of the material the casinos need to keep patrons safe when they open in Mississippi on May 21.

“All the floor decals, stay six feet away, practice social distancing, that’s very important right now, they got to have it,” he said. “We’re fortunate enough that we had the equipment to do it.”

Because the casinos will only operate at 50% capacity, their purchasing will not be as robust as the day they closed.

“I’ve heard from a few casinos that they’re not going to do buffets when they initially open up,” said Beau Blalock, vice president of operations for Gulf Coast Produce that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the casinos. "They’re just going to be anywhere there is a sit-down restaurant or a sit-down steak house or some sort of employee dining room. “They’re going to do that to start with and then once they figure out the buffet piece, they’ll move into that direction.”

Even with casinos coming back, businesses have lost two months of income that they will never make up.

“Looking at year-over-year for the summertime, if everything comes back, my expectation is we’ll only be down about 30%,” Blalock said.

Any increase in sales is good news, even if the sales aren’t direct to the casinos. Sue Nguyen-Torjusen, owner of Le Bakery in Biloxi, said she hasn’t heard from any of her casino clients yet, but she does see a silver lining.

“I think that with a lot of casino workers going back to work, that’s going to be a great thing for us,” she said. “Because that’s what we were missing, a lot of the faces that we see here is (casino workers), whether they were coming off a shift or going into a shift.”

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