MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Many Grand Strand businesses are dreading the coming weeks as summer tourism fades along with profits, but those in the sports business are gearing up for a great football season.
Thursday kicked off college football season, and sports bars in the area saw a high turnout for the University of South Carolina's season opener.
Parking spaces were a premium at Dagwood's Deli and Sports Bar in Surfside Beach. Management says the crowd is just the beginning for a long and prosperous season.
"It puts a whole new spin on winter time for us. I mean this is our time to shine, so we're really excited for it. We feel like we're ready," manager Maribeth Lamuraglia said.
Despite the exodus of tourists that is marked by the passing of Labor Day weekend, sports bars are in their prime.
"Now our weekends are going to be jam packed with obviously college football Saturday, NFL Sunday, plus Thursday night games as well. It's a big turnaround for business," Andrew Handley, owner of Handley's Pub and Grub in Carolina Forest, explained.
Sports bars aren't the only places that benefit from football season. Shops that sell sports gear are seeing increased sales as well.
"[Football season is a] very important time. We do very well. The Gamecocks are a very strong seller for us coming off the baseball championship. Expectations are high and projected to have a good team," said Brian Corbett of Pro Image at the Coastal Grand Mall.
Corbett said he's seen lots of people looking for USC gear recently and they're buying NFL jerseys too. He hopes sales will get even better as football season continues.