News 12 at 11 o'clock, April 11, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---During Masters week, lots of businesses on Washington Road get extra business. This year the downtown district has been trying harder to attract those Masters fans.
"I wouldn't be anywhere else in Augusta but downtown," said Lara Plocha, owner of Blue Magnolia, a shop on Broad Street.
But last year Masters week for her was about as bad as a double bogey.
"Last year was our first Masters week and it was dead. We really anticipated that again this year," she said.
But that's not what she got. Lara says sales have doubled over last year. She says it's because many business owners have tried to attract more people downtown.
"There's this perception here locally that Augusta closes down during Masters week. Downtown doesn't close down during Masters," she said.
The Greater Augusta Arts Council is behind the event called Back Nine Friday, similar to First Friday. It included putt-putt for the kids, live music, and street vendors.
"We were just really pushing that downtown was open and I think it's paid off," Plocha said.
That's not the only way they've been trying to attract people. A monthly downtown newspaper, Verge, included articles about things to do downtown. Plocha says the Downtown Development Authority also passed out information at the Masters.
Plocha's happy for all the effort.
"Oh it's great news for us because what was our worst week last year is now a very strong week," she said.
At nearby restaurant Bee's Knees, owner Kristy Kinlaw says she hasn't seen much of a change over last year. She says things aren't crazy but they do see an increase in business.
"It's great to have tourists in Augusta for any reason. Hopefully more can come, start coming downtown," Kinlaw said.
And Plocha says more people will come as long as they have a reason.
"I think it's just gonna get better and better," she said.