Coastal businesses celebrate strong summer season

Posted September 7, 2015

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— While rain dampened part of the Labor Day weekend, the skies cleared and the swimmers, sunbathers and surfers returned Monday to cap what business owners say has been a good beach season along the North Carolina coast.

Sanford resident Rebecca Egbert was among those enjoying the last big summer holiday at Wrightsville Beach.

"We're about 15 minutes out from being here, and it was pouring rain," she said. "But we just held out, got here about 11, it's beautiful."

Rain was falling when Kailah Best arrived from Winston-Salem, but she, too, waited it out.

"We went to a diner and came back, and it was just like WOW," Best said.

Monday's break in the clouds was also a welcome sight for business owners capping one of the strongest seasons in recent memory.

"It's been one of the best seasons we can remember," said John Andrews, owner of the South Beach Grill.

"All the merchants are happy with Wrightsville Beach, and our room occupancy is up, and in general, the economy is doing great down here on the beach," he said.

By June, local leaders knew they were in for a good season. Connie Nelson, spokeswoman for the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tax revenues from hotel rooms were up 6 percent during that first full month of summer.

"We're hoping that the rest of the summer stays true to that increase," she said.

The boost is a shot in the arm for businesses like Loops Donuts, which gamble on seasonal profits to make their dough.

"We've been having lines every day, on the weekends especially," said Colby Domnick, Loops' owner.

Jazz Undy, owner of Wrightsville Beach Art Company, said he's sold more than 100 pieces since April, and the summer of 2015 exceeded expectations.

"I was just really going to be happy if we could just pay our rent and kind of break even, and we've been able to do that and more," Undy said.

While many people consider Labor Day weekend the end of summer, coastal business owners are counting on the mild days of September and October to keep the tourists coming and the cash registers ringing.


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