Businesses reported mixed results after they checked receipts Wednesday as the Atlantic City Airshow crowds cleared the Boardwalk.
This year marked the first time the show was held in June, a fact officials hoped would draw visitors back to the beach earlier after Hurricane Sandy.
“To have people back in June is a great way to start the summer,” said Joe Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. “Clearly, it’s a positive thing.”
While it was too early to accurately gauge the event’s financial impact, Kelly said there are intangible benefits. For instance, he said, holding such a major tourism draw earlier in the summer means better exposure for Atlantic City.
“It’s a reminder that the Boardwalk is intact and we’re ready for business,” he said.
Boardwalk establishments were ready, but that didn’t mean people were spending as lavishly as they had during previous airshows.
Mohammad Imran, who owns American Souvenirs near Boardwalk Hall, said the day’s sales totaled $850 as of 4 p.m. Last year, when the show was held in August, his business saw $2,400 in sales.
“Now, it’s done,” he said, gesturing toward his cash register. “No one else is coming. People are leaving for the day.”
But the day was better than most recent Wednesdays. Since Sandy, Imran said, he’s struggled to pay rent.
“I think all people are thinking there’s nothing here in Atlantic City,” he said. “When customers come here, they don’t believe we’re doing fine.”
The day was a more positive one for Zipcar, a firm that offers cars that can be rented and exchanged. Employees of the Massachusetts-based company were out on the Boardwalk trying to generate local interest in the new service it is hosting at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
“We went in with average expectations, but we got awesome interest,” said Heather Merrill, a brand ambassador. “There’s a lot of interest here.”
Merrill said the company usually puts its tents up at farmers markets and parades. At this event, they had a prime location not far from the show’s center near Boardwalk Hall.
“Today was so clutch,” she said, standing next to one of the lime-green cars.
Robert Blume, a 21-year-old manning the taps at Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co., said he’d like to see the airshow be on a weekend or later in the summer. The Somerset County-based company sold specialty soft drinks in large, metal mugs from their mobile truck.
“It was acceptable,” he said. “We didn’t do crazy business, but it’s something I’d do again.”
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