Merchants hope new bus stop will draw business

Conway, SC - By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Merchants in Conway are hoping a new shuttle bus stop downtown will help draw more Coastal Carolina students to the area.

All summer long businesses in downtown Conway have been opening their arms to students and staying open later for the Thursday night Conway Crawl.

"We are trying to really sell Conway as the main street of CCU," explained Hillary Howard, the interim director of Conway Main Street USA. "We want them to have that hometown feeling on our Main Street."

"I think it will take some time," CCU senior Caitlin Spahr said. "But eventually no one is going to want to drive all the way down [Highway] 501 when they can just hop over the bridge right here and be right in downtown Conway and get everything else they need."

Now that school has started, CCU and the City of Conway are working together to make the commute even easier for students by adding a new stop on the Coast RTA Gateway Shuttle Bus. It now stops downtown every Sunday and Thursday from 3-11 p.m.

"If you don't have a car on campus, previously it only went to Walmart and the movie theater," CCU's Director of Student Activities and Leadership Whitney Comer said. "So there were very limited options."

"Most of us are broke so if there was a shuttle we wouldn't have to pay for gas or anything," student Kyle Hopfensperger said.

Even if students get to downtown for free, however, student Terrance Piette says it will likely still be too costly for some students to make the trip.

"I think the money factor would be a problem because there's a lot of shopping stuff that you have to spend money on," Piette said.

If they can get the students there for the first time, some argue they will be able to keep them coming back.

"I think most kids probably haven't discovered downtown Conway yet," Spahr said. "There's actually a lot of restaurants, a lot of cool places."

But fellow student Africa Brown is not so convinced. "Conway is a beautiful town, but you have to really love Conway to want to go downtown on a shuttle just to walk around in the little shops."

That is exactly what the shops are banking on though, hoping to convince students that they have something worth visiting in their historic downtown.

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