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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 5 years ago

Biketoberfest means mixed results for local business owners

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Although many companies, including local florists, note a spike in sales during bike events, others cite Biketoberfest as their slowest sales week of the year.

BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER

Another Biketoberfest goes by, and the businesses count their profits: bars, restaurants, florists.

Yes, there are florists, and a few other unexpected businesses that report profits from the biker rush, too.

“We get a little business,” said Rick Rivers, co-owner of A Floral Boutique, on U.S. 1. “We usually have a few guys who found the love of their life. We send flowers to a lot of bar tenders.”

Sometimes, a serious romance breaks out in the biker events, he said. One Friday morning, a biker stopped in and said he was getting married. The shop delivered flowers to the Granada Beach Approach for the ceremony that afternoon.

Rivers said some bikers stop at his shop just because they are amused by the “Bikers — Glad You Are Here” sign he displays outside.

Rivers said he wouldn’t mind the traffic congestion and noise bike events make even if he didn’t sell anything, though, because he believes the events are a big economic benefit elsewhere.

He said the traffic makes it tough for their delivery drivers, but the problem is easily solved by delivering earlier in the morning.

“We follow the beer trucks,” he said. The trucks replenish supplies while the visitors are still sleeping.

Another business that does well is Miss Priss Consignment Boutique on West Granada Boulevard.

“We did awesome,” said Linda Hogan, sales associate. “It was a new record for sales.”

Hogan said they have a lot of repeat customers who have been coming to the shop during every biker event for years. They also get new business because visitors going by on their motorcycles notice their window display, featuring lots of leather garments.

“When people come in, they always look around,” Hogan said.

Local exercise facilities will also see bikers. Chip Wheeler, manager of Platinum Health, Fitness & Yoga, on U.S. 1, said when people work out regularly, it’s hard to go a week without it.

“Working out is addictive,” he said. “When I worked at a gym, I would see the same people every year.”

His current business does not get biker business because it offers personal training and does not offer a gym to the public.

“Even if I had to shut down for a week, I wouldn’t mind it,” he said. “It brings money to the economy. People will have money for personal training.”

Some businesses, though, only watch the motorcycles go by.

Gene Shields, manager of Nature’s Garden Health Foods, on West Granada Boulevard, said no bikers come in for supplies and business is slow because regular customers don’t want to get out in the traffic.

During Bike Week, in February, his customers will start to come in toward the end of the week.

“They start to run out of food,” he said.

The biker events are also the slowest days of the year for Jerry Papi, owner of Unisex Salon.

“They don’t come down to get haircuts; they come down to ride,” he said.

Chris Butera, president-elect of the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t know how chamber members in general feel about biker events.

“There are certain businesses that benefit,” he said. “Restaurants, hotels and related businesses do great. But when you clog up the roads, some businesses won’t do so well.”

He also noted that he has often wondered how much money actually stays in town, since so many of the vendors that set up shop for the week are not local.

But proponents of the out-of-town vendors say they add to the overall value of the event.

Steve Fritze, manager of the Iron Horse Saloon on U.S. 1, knows that he makes an economic impact locally. For Bike Week, he hires 180 people and for Biketoberfest, about 140.

“I have a very large payroll during these events,” he said.

Many of the same people work each year and some take vacations from their regular jobs to earn extra money, he said.

He said business was good at the Iron Horse this year but he has seen the biker events slowly dwindling the last few years.

“The older guys are not being replaced by younger guys,” he said.

Fritze said the recent economy has been a problem, but another factor is that there are many more biker events than there used to be.

“It’s spread out too thin,” he said. “On any weekend, you can find a bike event somewhere in Florida.”

Since he believes the bikers who frequent these events are generally the same people year after year, age is thinning out the pack.

“There are at least 2,000 people that I remember when I see them,” Fritze said.

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