Car enthusiasts invading
When thousands of car enthusiasts roll into town this weekend for the 12th annual Show, Shine, Shag & Dine, local restaurants and hotels are expecting a substantial boost in customers and revenues.
As the largest event in Vance County, the car show brought in about 45,000 people and roughly $3 million in economic impact to the county last year, said Nancy Wilson, the executive director of the Vance County Tourism Development Authority.
“We probably have about as many people attend this one event as there are living in Vance County,” she said.
She estimates the event’s economic impact on the county this year will be similar, which Wilson attributes to a strong media presence and successful marketing campaign.
“We market all over the country on the radio, television and in print publications,” she said.
Her tourism development authority is already preparing for Oct. 2014.
The event begins Friday, is highlighted by a car show filling downtown Garnett Street on Saturday, and climaxes on Sunday with inductions to the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame.
Visitors coming from all over the state and country fill the local hotels.
Susan Lail, manager at the Holiday Inn Express, said her hotel is always booked solid during the weekend of the car show.
The three-day event brings in about 125 people, she said.
Lail said visitors typically book a room for next year’s show when they check out at the end of their stay.
“We will be probably 50 percent booked for next year at the end of the weekend,” she said.
It is a similar story at the Hampton Inn on Ruin Creek Road.
Glenda Royster, the front office manager, said her hotel was booked up as early as August.
“Every year, we are sold out,” she said of the car show weekend. “The majority of these hotels, especially on this side of town, will be sold out by now.”
Some restaurants in downtown, like George’s, also benefit from the event.
Kader Ozpehlivan, the manager, said she looks forward to the Show, Shine, Shag & Dine every year because she serves twice as many customers.
“It brings new people not just locally, but from all over so it’s like free advertising,” she said. “Parking is a problem but you expect that with a car show and them closing the street.”
But not all businesses benefit from the crowds and cars taking over Garnett Street.
Diane Johnson, of Betty B’s, closes her shop during the car show.
“Normally we don’t open because most of the traffic is strictly restroom use,” she said.
Since the store has started offering a full-service florist this year, she said they will open half the day on Saturday in hopes that some people from the car show will want to purchase flowers.
At Down to Earth, Bob Pleasants takes his vacation days when the car show crowds come to town.
“Customers I do have, don’t have any place to park,” said Pleasants, who has owned the health and wellness store for 15 years.
Mayra Cabello, who owns Yarny and Sassy, has seen four car shows over the years.
“Last year, I opened the store and was pleasantly surprised when three people came in,” she said. “But only one person bought something.”
Cabello, like Pleasants, said the downtown event can discourage potential customers who have nowhere to park.
“I think its good for the town, but I don’t see a whole lot of business coming in,” she said.
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