South Africa meets Mississippi in this new Bay St. Louis emporium, offering an exciting expedition for shoppers.
- by Maurice Singleton
The business opened on July 30, and the owners say that customers are drawn to the location because of the name of the business, which is positioned in large letters on the roof.
“People don’t know what to expect,” said Yvan.
“We have a very broad variety of merchandise,” said Georgeana, smiling.
She’s not exaggerating. Some of the interesting treasures found there include specialty homemade candles, home decor, South African cookbooks and food spices, beef jerky, coffee, nuts, candies, clothing for men, women and children, football game day gear, man cave signs, and antique furniture pieces.
And there’s more to come. While shoppers will find a wide range of temptations now, the owners say that they’ll be adding much more in the coming months. And the diversity of merchandise on the shelves will be reflective of their backgrounds.
Georgeana is from Indianola in the Mississippi Delta. “I’m a Mississippi girl, born and raised!” she declared. Yvan is South African. Georgeana's father had been a safari client of Yvan for several years, and he introduced the two while Yvan was in the States promoting his business.
After an 18-month courtship, the couple married in February, 2020. The pandemic separated them shortly thereafter for four months. Since then, the couple has spent time in both Mississippi and South Africa, finally deciding to start a new business back in Mississippi. Georgeana had family ties in Bay St. Louis, and the couple fell in love with the area – although she’s quick to add, “I love ALL of Mississippi.”
For the past year, the couple has worked diligently to find the right vendors and merchandise that best fits the vision they have for The Rusty Zebra. The name itself reflects the concept. “Zebra” refers to the African roots of the business, while "rusty" references the antique furniture pieces offered in the marketplace.
“Stylish, fun – and then some,” said Georgeana. “We wanted something unique and different, yet appealing to everyone.”
“And of course, we’ll always have some imports from South Africa,” Yvan added.
The works of local artists and artisans have already proven especially popular with customers. Custom bouquet paintings by local artist Leanna Garcia are short-lived on the shelves at The Rusty Zebra.
“We can’t keep her paintings in stock,” said Yvan. “Customers love her work as much as we do.”
The Rusty Zebra is located on Highway 90 in Bay St. Louis. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
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