‘Who’s here is what’s important’: Mexico Beach mayor among business owners with Michael damage

Florida

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – The mayor of Mexico Beach isn’t just assisting those in his community by being a politician. He’s also a small business owner in a business that’s very important to the area one year after Hurricane Michael slammed the Panhandle: Hardware.

Mayor Al Cathey said his family has owned a hardware store in Mexico Beach for 66 years.

Their original building was destroyed by the storm, but thankfully the family was able to move forward rather quickly.

“That building is gone,” Cathey explained. “We just by the grace of God, this warehouse held together and we moved in, took us about six weeks to get put over here. And we’re back in business. But business owners here, remember we’re mom and pop. We’re not corporate America, we don’t have anybody to call to say ‘send us some resources.’”

The Cathey family had to transition their business from a tourist spot selling umbrellas and fishing rods in addition to simple hardware, to building material to become a “need-based supply house.”

Mayor Cathey understands the struggle of all business owners within his little community.

“That’s part of the charm of our town is the mom and pop aspect of – you don’t see flashing lights of corporate America here. But on the other hand, it really takes a toll on the local business people when they start from scratch,” he said.

He said it’s not about what Mexico Beach and its business owners have lost, but who is still in the area, working towards a brighter future.

“Today we don’t have a gas station, we don’t have a bank, we don’t have a grocery store, we don’t have a sit-down restaurant. And it doesn’t phase us. We’re moving on. Whose here is what’s important.”

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