School is out, tourists are swarming the city, and there’s this little festival going on called Spoleto. Business should be booming, but a recent trip to Tourist Central, a.k.a. Market Street, revealed that things aren’t as busy as some businesses had hoped.
“We keep waiting to have the big rush,” says Casey Smith, a hostess at TBonz Gill and Grill, reflecting the concern of other F&B employees we spoke to.
Ben & Jerry’s employee Palmer Conrad says, “It hasn’t gotten crazy hectic this year.” He explains that the popular ice cream shop will occasionally have lines out the door — but the lines this year might last around 20 minutes, whereas last summer they were more likely to last two hours.
Joey Goodwin, a four-year server at A.W. Shucks, says, “We have good days on days we’re not expecting it.” But, as far as the day-to-day turnout of customers goes, it has been very inconsistent. “People are coming out but not determined to spend money like they used to be.”
The employees at Planter’s Inn claim that the past two years have not been very busy, but that this past April was the busiest they’ve ever had. The Inn has 64 rooms and in April they reached 90 percent occupancy. But they’re not thanking Spoleto for the upturn. Rather, the new Carnival Cruise dock has helped fill the rooms, and keep them filled. “You can tell by looking on the street the days the cruise is here,” says employee Drew Dozier.