NEWBERRY — The Total Solar Eclipse is two weeks away, which means we are close to the four day Newberry EclipseFest weekend.
Local officials say there is a possibility that Newberry will experience Oktoberfest level crowds during the eclipse and the days leading up to it.
With the chance of high foot traffic, many downtown businesses are preparing for the potential economical boon that the event will bring their business.
Meri Ellen Ringer, president of the Downtown Merchants Association and the owner of The Gallery, said that everyone in the Association is very excited about the Eclipse.
“When you have an influx of people like that it would be wonderful if everybody opened their doors and extended their hours, so we can show off everybody,” she said. “When you hear the population is going to double, possibly triple, that means Oktoberfest or bigger. This is really a once in a lifetime event, so we decided to open our doors and show off Newberry.”
When the crowds hit Downtown Newberry during Oktoberfest, many business owners say they do very well economically. Ringer said they get a lot of foot traffic coming in and out of their store.
“For me, as a small business person, that is definitely a positive. People do not always buy right then, but it gives you exposure, they see what you have and they come back later and purchase. We kinda feel that will be the way it will work with EclipseFest too,” she said.
Heather Hawkins, ticketing and guest experience manger at The Newberry Opera House, said that during Oktoberfest they have an increase in tours. In fact one year they did 600 tours in one day. She said that during Oktoberfest it is all about bringing awareness, and it is about the dollar you collect tomorrow and awareness to your town.
Other Downtown businesses, like Books on Main and Armfield’s Office & School Supplies, also said their business does well during Oktoberfest.
In fact Randy Berry, owner of Books on Main, said it is busiest day of the year.
“We do great on Oktoberfest, I am hoping for the same for EclipseFest. I really hope if we get good weather, we get the people in town, I do anticipate having real good days,” said Christie Armfield, owner of Armfield’s Office & School Supplies.
Many of these businesses are now planning what they will do for the four day Newberry EclipseFest.
Ringer said that The Gallery will be open that entire weekend, with regular hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Monday. Sunday they may have extended hours, but will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We will have additional staff on those days, because we are expecting a lot of foot traffic, and hopefully cash register traffic,” Ringer said.
Ringer has also increased her inventory on some of her merchandise, including children’s items.
For more information on what The Gallery is doing during EclipseFest, you can give them a call at (803) 276-7822.
The Silverspoon Tea Room, located within The Gallery, will be open Friday and Saturday as normal, and will also be open on Sunday, Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on what they will be offering give them a call at (803) 597-1188.
Hawkins said it will be a busy week at The Opera House, since tickets go on sale on Aug. 15. She said they will be heavily manning the box office that weekend. They will also have a back up system for their internet, just in case that goes out.
“We took a look at making sure we have plenty of staff, plenty of volunteers. We are doing volunteer training before EclipseFest this year,” she said. “Whenever there is an event we are always open beyond our regular hours. We like to talk up downtown restaurants and shops.”
Hawkins also added that the Newberry EclipseFest Information and Souvenir Shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Monday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
For more information on what The Opera House is doing during EclipseFest you can give them a call at (803) 276-6264.
Berry said he plans to have Books on Main open Friday, Saturday and Monday for sure, but has not decided on Sunday. He will also be stocking up on “South Carolina Total Eclipse Guide: Commemorative Official Keepsake Guidebook” by Aaron Linsdau.
“People who bought it so far bought it because in the back you can write what you remember about the day, who you were with, where you were standing. You know because it is a once in a life time thing,” he said.
For more information on what Books on Main is doing during the Eclipse, and their hours during those days, you can give them a call at (803) 321-1920.
Kevin Clamp, owner of The Corner Scoop, said they are thinking about stocking up on ice cream so they do not run out. For the most part their hours will be the same, but they may open a little bit earlier on Monday during the day of the Eclipse.
For more information on what The Corner Scoop will be doing you can give them a call at (803) 276-3172.
Armfield’s Office & School Supplies will be open Friday and Monday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but are closed on Sunday. Armfield said they are going to have handouts with information on the Eclipse.
For more information on what Armfield’s Office & School Supplies will be offering you can give them a call at (803) 276-6132.
Aimee Talbot, owner of EuroLux Home, said she will be open the day of the Eclipse. Normally her business is closed on Sunday, and she said in theory she would think about being open that day.
For more information on what they will be doing that day, you can give them a call at (803) 276-4001.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.