News 12 First @ Five, April 6, 2010
AIKEN, S.C. --- Crowds of people walking the streets and eating at local restaurants are what downtown business owners love to see during Masters Week. And for Tea Garden Gifts manager Lisa Mitchell, there's only one way to describe it:
"Busy," she said. "Lots of tourists, Masters guests. We're staying open until 7 this week. Lots of things going on during the course of the week."
From live entertainment to new menus to special discounts, Aiken business owners are looking for ways to attract shoppers.
"Each year we do putting for a discount," Mitchell said. "They have three tries and can get discounts on everything they buy if they get a hole in one."
Masters patrons are "from all over the world," said Van Smith of Lionel Smith, Ltd. "They might wake up at 4 in the morning and need something to do because the course isn't open yet." Smith says the flexible hours at the unique shops and restaurants downtown are what keep shoppers in town for the Tournament coming back every year.
"They're not many downtowns that are vibrant like downtown Aiken. Everybody wants to be in a happening place, and Aiken is a happening place," said Smith.
Shoppers seem to agree.
"Not only the quaint shops, but everybody's really friendly and help when you go into the shops," said shopper Connie Lewis. "It's just a neat little town. I love historic little towns."
Business owners say they're happy any time a big tournament can continuously bring in big money.
"We're grateful to have an event like the Masters, Triple Crown going on to keep everything vibrant in the CSRA," said Smith.
"It's just a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun to see," said Mitchell.
If you're not into shopping, there's always arts in downtown Aiken. The Aiken Community Playhouse is putting on "The Foursome." It's the story of four men reuniting on a golf course after years apart. It's in town just for Masters and you can catch it through Friday.