Sun. May 19th, 2024

Grant County Businesses Celebrate Eclipse

By Emily Bontrager Apr 10, 2024

By: Emily Bontrager and Colin Wood

Businesses in the greater Grant County area saw an increase of visitors for the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Several events were held across Grant County and brought in visitors from across the country.

“We’ve seen people from Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois” said Marion Applebee’s Manager Alicia Bryant. “But yeah, there’s lots of people. We just had a gentleman last night at the bar that was from Florida.”

Kylie Jackson of the Greater Grant County Chamber of Commerce said that her organization has been working with businesses to prepare for the incoming visitors.

“So, we’ve been doing education leading up to this point,” said Jackson. “So, helping businesses understand what they might expect during the eclipse just based on experiences that other communities have had during past eclipses.”

Jackson said one thing the Chamber of Commerce has been focusing on is how the eclipse could potentially mess up a business’s supply chain.

“So, if Monday is a normal delivery day for your business, you might consider rescheduling that, you know, so you’re not left without a delivery,” she said.

Haley Anderson, the Executive Director of the Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau said her organization has also been helping businesses accommodate the tourists.

“We’ve been working to ensure that everyone has the visitor information they need,” said Anderson. “We’ve been working with hotels to make sure they have a list of restaurants that are open and giving people instructions on where to see the eclipse, how to see the eclipse, not to look directly at the sun.”

Anderson said that the influx of visitors has affected the hours of certain businesses.

“Restaurants are opening on Mondays that aren’t usually open,” said Anderson. “People are getting deliveries today that, you know, logistic-wise they don’t usually get on Mondays.”

One big event that was held in the community was Eclipse-a-palooza. The event was hosted by Historic Marion LLC, and featured live music, local businesses and food trucks.

“We feel getting people downtown exposes them to what’s available and makes them more likely to reach out,” said Jay Jackson, a board member of Historic Marion LLC, and co-chair for Eclipse-a-palooza. “So yeah, that’s basically this event is just to promote downtown Marion.”

He said Historic Marion is a new organization that will take the place of the Main Street organizations. The focus of this group is to create a pedestrian-friendly downtown through events like Eclipse-a palooza.

Bryant said she expects Applebee’s and other restaurants in town will get more business than usual because of the visitors.

“Monday is typically one of our slower days, so we were understaffed and didn’t prepare because we all thought for sure with the evenings it would have been busier this evening versus this morning,” said Bryant. “But I think this morning people are also coming out to sit down maybe before and have lunch before they see the eclipse.”

Applebee’s, like a lot of other businesses in the area, is taking advantage of the increase in business through sales and specials.

“We’re doing a perfect eclipse margarita, which is pretty cool that we decided to take that name” said Bryant. “We’re doing that tonight which is going to run for a couple weeks.”

Kylie Jackson said she is encouraged by the fact that businesses are embracing the eclipse, and using this event as a way to promote themselves.

“I know that the chic mercantile boutique here in Marion is doing an eclipse watch party kind of out in their parking lot,” she said. “Another thing we’ve really been trying to encourage businesses to do is create reasons why people might stay.

Jay Jackson said he thinks the eclipse is a great way to promote Marion’s downtown area.

“Anytime we can get people downtown who haven’t actually done anything but driven up and down through downtown, once they get out of their car and look around there’s a lot down here to promote for people to do, places to eat, things to do, art entertainment, those kinds of things,” he said. “So we feel like getting people down here exposes them to what’s available and makes them more likely to reach out.”

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