It has been almost a month since Hurricane Florence hit the Grand Strand, but local businesses are still feeling the impact of the storm.
Though none of the businesses in and around Main Street sustained any serious structural damage, their revenue has taken a big hit.
On Monday Night, North Myrtle Beach City Council voted to allocate $73,000 to fund the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce’s new fall tourism marketing campaign. According to city spokesperson Pat Dowling, the goal of the campaign is to to attract more tourists to the city in the coming months to help businesses recoup the loss they’ve experienced as a result of the storm.
Dowling said the Chamber did already have a fall marketing campaign, but needed to completely change it in order to make sure it was more sensitive to surrounding areas that were harder hit by the storm and subsequent flooding.
“Businesses are beginning to hurt. Obviously throughout Horry County, throughout South Carolina, North Carolina. But, locally here they’re hurting and we don’t want employees to have to lose their jobs. We don’t want businesses to go out of business,” he said.
Several business owners with storefronts in the heart of the city said they could certainly use the help.
“The road closures that we had, the difficulties with employees getting to work, made it very difficult for customers to get down here, we definitely felt it,” said Weldon Boyd, owner of Buoys Beach Bar and Grill.
Hurricane Florence caused Buoys to close for almost a week, and Boyd said they’re still working to get back up on their feet.
“The bills don’t stop coming but the income stops. And, then when we got back, we found that we had lost a walk-in cooling unit and the walk-in cooler, so we lost an entire cooler full of fresh fish. So that was kind of a heavy hit too,” Boyd said.
Even after businesses reopened, foot traffic has been slow for several weeks.
“We lost two major festivals for this area that were kind of like the end of the summer for all of these businesses here near Main Street. Those two things are pretty big hits,” said Boyd.
One of those festivals was the SOS Fall Shag Dance convention. The Clothes Center employee Lorraine Jaques said that’s the store’s ‘bread and butter’ this time of year.
“That’s a huge loss for us because we count on that every year. It’s one of our major events that helps us through the winter. We ordered a lot of new merchandise in and there was nobody here to buy it,” Jaques said.
Both Jaques and Boyd are hopeful the Chamber of Commerce’s new effort to attract tourists this fall will help them make up those losses.
“We haven’t been staying open as late as he usually does because people just don’t seem to be here,” Jaques said.
“We definitely need your help, need your support, because when you close for that amount of time, it hurts you,” Boyd said.