Oceanfront Merchants Association needs more local business members

Oceanfront Merchants Association needs more local business members

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Events like the Fourth of July firework show, free concerts in downtown Plyer Park and Hot Summer Nights are hosted by Oceanfront Merchants Association, an organization wanting to invest in their own backyard to help keep visitors coming to Myrtle Beach.

However, OMA said there are only a few member businesses that are part of the organization, and that could eventually lead to entertainment cutbacks.

Peggy Iverson, executive director for OMA, said she has been going door-to-door trying to meet with business owners of the Boardwalk District to stress to them the importance of the organization.

She admitted, however, that she has been met with challenges.

Iverson said the future of events like the Kids Festival,  Hot Summer Nights and Plyer Park's free concerts could eventually be phased out if more businesses in the area don't step up to help.

"That's the purpose of what we do. We put feet on the streets, because when we put feet on the streets, that helps them get dollars in their doors" stated Iverson.

OMA hosts the entertainment lineup that happens in downtown Plyer Park in Myrtle Beach. Iverson said it is the entertainment that is part of the experience that keeps visitors coming back.

"I know visitors are looking for added value to get more bang for their buck, and so the entertainment is important to them," she said.

Iverson said she has difficulty getting some businesses in the district to understand that. Last year, she added, there were 80 members of OMA and some of them were out of the district.

"There's businesses down here that, first of all, (it's) very hard to get in front of the owner. The owner may be living in a different state or even country," explained Iverson.

She also added that some of the merchants are just not interested, despite their benefiting.

Businesses can become members of OMA for about $100 for a basic annual membership. A business can also purchase sponsorships that gives an added bonus of advertising. These start at $350 a year.

The executive director said they are stretching their biggest supporters extremely thin.

"A lot of businesses sit back and piggyback off other people that are members. They are really putting the money up and other businesses are not contributing at all, and that's what makes it hard on the 30 percenters who are" said Iverson.

The accommodations tax grant from the city of Myrtle Beach gives OMA over $100,000 in funding, which Iverson said covers the costs of the Fourth of July fireworks show. The city, however, is cutting back, she said, and it is up to OMA to come up with creative ways to get funding from other sources.

"If we can get 80 percent participation, it would make all the difference in the world to make OMA self-sustaining. If we can be self-sustaining, we don't have to plan on asking for in-kind services from the city or cut back on the level of entertainment that we are offering our visitors," said Iverson.

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