Big events bring economic boost to downtown Aiken businesses

You don’t have to look far to know spring is in the air in Aiken.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Between the Sage Valley Junior Invitational and the Aiken Trials, there are plenty of visitors coming to the area.

We were in downtown Aiken where local stores say they’re seeing a lot more business as a result.

You don’t have to look far to know spring is in the air in Aiken. Just step outside, grab a bite to eat, and countdown until the next leg of the Aiken Triple Crown.

“Can I get you anything while you wait?”

It’s the question businesses in Aiken are asking this week more than ever.

“The line was probably going almost out the door, and then it fills. Everybody fills in the seats, and then it’s a lot of people talking, and we’ve got the Greek music playing. It’s a good vibe in here,” said Barista Hayley Goodwin, Union Park Coffee.

“Any more coffee Bonnie,” she asked.

A regular cup of joe for a customer not so regular.

“I’ve met some people from Sweden. Some people from the UK. That’s mainly the areas that I’ve met people from. They always come back for more. We didn’t run out. So we couldn’t make coffee, but we definitely needed an order more than expected,” said Goodwin.

The Willcox Hotel is all out of rooms. Full of riders in this year’s Steeplechase from London and Australia.

Van Smith is the owner of Lionel Smith Ltd. He said, “We get very busy. This is basically our second Christmas.”

You can’t go to the Triple Crown without dressing to fit the part.

“We’ll have probably five different customers, five to six, five to seven different customers in at one time,” he said.

A little out of their pocket and a little in theirs.

“How much sells is probably for spring, 25% of our sales in the next four weeks, let’s say,” said Smith.

The more out-of-towners the better.

“It’s actually very nice because there’s a lot more discretionary income from out-of-town people,” he said.