From restaurants to clothing stores, merchants have spent months preparing for the 43rd annual United States Sailboat and Powerboat Shows.
"The economic impact of the boat shows on Annapolis is upwards of $50 million, and we expect more than 100,000 visitors to downtown," said Lara Fritts, president of the Annapolis Economic Development Corporation.
The sailboats will be at City Dock from Thursday to Monday, and the Powerboat Show runs from Oct. 11 to 14. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.
lobbied for a special permit to turn its section of outdoor dining on Main Street into a "Cork Yard" that serves keg wine from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
"We wanted to encourage Boat Show visitors to venture up Main Street instead of spending their entire time at City Dock," said owner Brian Bolter. "We hope turning our Cork Yard into the wine equivalent of a 'beer garden' will bring a vibrancy to the block."
This is the bar's second boat show since it opened slightly more than a year ago, and Bolter said his outdoor plans and drink specials aren't specifically designed to lure people into the bar.
"This is less about boosting business and more about brand awareness," Bolter said. "We hope visitors and the community will appreciate our 'out of the box' approach to everything Red Red Wine Bar does."
Helly Hansen has extended it hours, started a sale and brought in additional staff for the 2012 shows.
"We typically carry about four employees in the store; we are up to about 12 employees," assistant manager Wade Clevenger said "We start prepping in January for this thing."
This is Clevenger's third boat show with Helly Hansen, and he said the store sees at least triple the amount of traffic it normally does.
"I mean, it's crazy; people come in from all over the world," Clevenger said. "Two years ago, on the Saturday of the sailboat show we had customers in the store until midnight."
The boat shows don't mean business is booming for everyone downtown.
"We have some merchants that love the shows because they see an uptick in business and others that feel they do not necessarily increase their business, so not everyone agrees," Annapolis Business Association President Sean O'Neill said.
Fritts pointed out that shows also give an economic boost to area hotels—many of which are at or near capacity. People will eat, shop and sleep throughout the city during the next two weeks, Fritts said.
"The boat shows are the kind of events this city needs more of," O'Neill said. "They put heads in beds, they fill the restaurants and increase foot traffic downtown."
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