Masters saps life, business from downtown Augusta

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

The Masters brings big business to Augusta.

Businesses on Washington Road and Broad Street are competing for the same dollar.

But this week's profits are not an even split.

Golf fans are staying close to the National, so Augusta's downtown businesses aren't seeing the spike they'd hoped for.

Martin Rodriguez has all the ingredients he needs for his hot dog stand...except for one.

"It would be great to lure them downtown, to see how beautiful it is, you know, walk, enjoy it," Rodriguez says.

He's talking about golf fans in town for the Masters...but so far, they haven't fed martin any of their money.

"I basically could not afford a premium spot to be within that one-to-two block radius, so I did not get the business," he says.

The traffic on Broad Street is modest compared to a busier and much noisier Washington Road.

Stan Fink, owner of Antique World Auction, thought this spot would be ideal.

"It hasn't been so far, because they're not stopping," Fink says.

Even though his store is located at the intersection of Broad and 15th Streets, there is, surprisingly, still no business.

While the cars may not be stopping, there's no lack of Master's spirit downtown. With golf memorabilia in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

"A lot of 'em think it's more of a museum than a store when you see the wide range of inventory that we do have," Fink says.

And further up broad is The Bee's Knees restaurant, where management is advertising its specials.

Still, just two customers are inside for lunch.

"They're either over there, or they're on vacation, or they're with their kids who are on spring break, so the locals are not coming out to eat during the day," says Ryan Winfrey, manager of The Bee's Knees.

And with just a few tournament days remaining, Rodriguez with his hot dogs, Fink with his souvenirs, and Winfrey with her restaurant are all trying not to get too teed off.

"The best kept secret is downtown Augusta," Fink says.

"And more towards the weekend, traffic picks up," says Rodriguez

"It gets better through the years," Winfrey says.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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