MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Some Grand Strand businesses feel like they're missing out on a big money-making event each year: the Spring Rally. Businesses along Ocean Blvd. said the helmet law and now the new golf cart ordinance are hurting profit.
Many Spring Rally bikers have headed to Murrells Inlet in Georgetown County for their festivities since 2008.
"Well the Spring Rally used to be popular here in Myrtle Beach, but after the mess with the helmet law, they left us. They haven't been back since 2008," Coco Cabana owner Ben Robinson said. The new restaurant is located on Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach.
The past week and weekend was a busy one for the South Strand as motorcycles flooded the Murrells Inlet area. The Beaver Bar there is one of the busiest places to be during the spring rally, and this year was no different. Bikers began to pour in a little more than a week ago. The Beaver Bar owner says despite the rain, the bar was slammed over the weekend.
Myrtle Beach businesses can't say the same for the Harley Week event. Tables were empty along Ocean Boulevard on Friday. The high cost of Horry County vendor fees keep the vendors and the visitors in the South Strand.
Robinson said county and Myrtle Beach city laws are keeping local businesses from profiting from the thousands of people who ride here for biker events.
Robinson says not many come to the Myrtle Beach area, "versus Georgetown County which would be Murrells Inlet...that's where all the bikers for Spring Rally have gone. Ya know, we have a few that come through but not a lot of them stay, not a lot of them stop. We don't have traffic loops for Spring Rally."
Bikefest is known for loud motorcycles, a lot of partying, and in past years, unfortunately, crime. Even if the central location is Atlantic Beach, thousands of guests stay in Myrtle Beach and local business owners along Ocean Boulevard say even if they're new, they're prepared.
"People that actually ride motorcycles...they spend money, they create money, they're good people. We don't have a problem with them. We do, however, have a problem with people that don't ride motorcycles," Robinson said.
Coco Cabana is one of many Ocean Blvd. businesses taking up arms for the four-day Memorial Day weekend. The business' owners have also hired three off-duty police officers for extra protection. The security doesn't come cheap. Robinson said he's paying each officer $30 an hour for the for 4 days of extra security. He didn't stop there either. All of the managers will have a firearm on them.
The restaurant was still under construction during last year's event, but the owners aren't new to the area. Robinson said this year, they feel they need to be able to offer protection to protect their employees and themselves if law enforcement can't get to them fast enough.
"We have off duty police officers...and I don't even know how we found those because they're usually working. But we do have off-duty police officers that we pay for at a staggering amount of money for a local business to have to provide that law enforcement for ourselves is very difficult for us," Robinson said.
State and federal law enforcement will be in town to aid local agencies. However, from experience, Robinson believes there's simply not enough law enforcement for the amount of people flowing into the Grand Strand.