By Jeremiah Reed
Staff Writer 

Summer Business Good - Brevard NC

 


Last Monday’s Labor Day festivities unofficially meant the end of another summer season for merchants in downtown Brevard, and based off increased sales numbers several indicated their wish that summer would never end.

“There seemed to be more people in town this year,” said Richard Coadwell, owner of Kiwi Gelato. “I would say we definitely saw upward movement in terms of the number of people we had come in.”

While the eye-test is always a good barometer for gauging business and foot traffic, officials have gathered data confirming the summer boom of people visiting Transylvania.

Clark Lovelace, executive director of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Development Authority (TDA), presented several indicators that showed the increase of people visiting Brevard in 2014 from 2013.

Lovelace said through the end of July 2014 there had been 9,600 people come into the visitors center on West Main Street – a 13 percent increase during that same period in 2013.

There was also a 16 percent increase in phone calls to the visitors center from 2013 and a 15 percent increase in bulk mail sent out, which are usually requests for packets of information or travel planners.

Lovelace said occupancy figures for this past June showed some of the highest numbers of visitors on record and the occupancy data for the 2013-2014 fiscal year showed it to be one of the best years ever.

Lovelace said the Heart of Brevard also indicated attendance and revenue for this year’s July 4th Festival downtown were both up from 2013.

While summer often provides downtown businesses their strongest sales season, with the days of August in the rearview mirror and leaf season still roughly a month away, the lull in business is inevitable.

“We saw and felt, as we do every year, a distinct drop-off somewhere in the middle of August,” Lovelace said. “I’d say the number of visitors we have on a daily basis is cut in half.”

Lovelace said one of the TDA’s biggest focuses has been getting people to visit and stay in Brevard during the off-season and also prolong those visits. Part of that effort includes a survey/study to be completed in the coming year by Market Connections, the Asheville-based marketing agency that has worked closely with the TDA in the past.

Lovelace said the study would look at who comes to Transylvania County, what those people are looking for, where they spend their money, etc. One industry that seemingly knows no bounds in growth on the local level is cycling/mountain Biking.

Lovelace said the bike community in Transylvania continues to be a “strong area of growth.”

Part of that growth has included efforts on the local level, including the BIKE Transylvania publication recently distributed jointly by the TDA and The Transylvania Times.

Lovelace said the BIKE publication was important to show visitors and Biking enthusiasts that Transylvania goes the extra mile to promote the Biking industry.

“We wanted (BIKE Transylvania) to enhance the experience of bikers but, also, we wanted something tangible,” Lovelace said. “If you’re calling yourself a bike town and a bike community, we need stuff like that.”

In looking at downtown business, several merchants said they picked up on trends that impacted their bottom line this summer compared to previous summers.

For some those trends were as simple as a weather forecast. While afternoon summer rainstorms in Transylvania are nearly predictable enough to set your watch by, this year’s summer wasn’t nearly as wet as 2013.

According to data from the National Weather Service, between June and August in 2013, Brevard got 36.99 inches of rain; in 2014 that number fell to just under 18 inches.

For many people gelato is a great way to cool off on hot summer days when the mercury approaches 90 degrees, and Coadwell said warmer weather meant more people coming into his store.

“Last year, for my business in particular, it rained in the afternoon when there are lots of people downtown,” he said. “Having 120 inches of rain [in 2013] wasn’t very helpful but this year, not as much”

For the adult crowd, beating the heat is sometimes best done with a cold pint of beer and for Kyle Williams, owner and brewmaster of Brevard Brewing Company, that means a steady stream of thirsty customers.

“This was the best summer I’ve ever had,” Williams said of Brevard Brewing’s sales, which opened in the spring of 2012. “Retail sales at the bar were way up (and) wholesale was way up. I got all this new equipment, so that’s helped a lot. It couldn’t be better.”

Other merchants noticed changes in when foot traffic was the heaviest.

Toby Brown, owner of Baby Ink, said while he expects his summer sales to be right at the level they were in 2013, he did notice fewer people coming into his shop on weekends as opposed to last year.

For other businesses, a change of scenery brought about major sales boosts.

Martha Carlton, owner of Theophilus, said her business, which relocated to Main Street earlier this year, had a great summer sales season.

She was thrilled to see downtown continuing to be so vibrant.

“I was overwhelmed with the response we had to our new location,” Carlton said. “I’m extremely happy with the major growth in our sales from last year and it’s so fun to see the streets of Brevard full of people in the summertime.”

Carlton said she would love to see the continued collaboration between businesses to keep people coming back to downtown Brevard.

She also thanked the Brevard Music Center and all the area camps for their efforts in attracting people to the area.

Carlton also owns Locals, a small boutique located on Broad Street in the same space where Theophilus was formerly housed. True to its name, Carlton said Locals has been popular among Transylvanians as well as tourists.

“Locals is doing great,” she said. “We’ve only been open since the end of May, and we’re just so thankful for the community’s reaction, and it was a huge hit for people from out of town wanting to take a little piece of Brevard home with them.”

 
 

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