Harbour Town businesses share mostly positive view of Heritage

gmartin@islandpacket.comApril 13, 2012 

Hugh Green looked around his crowded store near the base of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, smiled and spread his arms.

"This," he said, "is my Christmas."

Green, in his fourth decade of managing the golf attire store Knickers, said the week of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, under way just across the Harbour Town Yacht Basin, is always his busiest.

"I don't need to do anything different to bring people in this week," he said, "just make sure I unlock the doors."

As festive as Green found it, though, the week tends to deliver a figurative lump of coal to a nearby proprietor.

"We never anticipate that it'll be busy now," said Jey Waldrop, co-owner of Bailey's Ltd., as a stream of golf enthusiasts filed past his open doors.

Waldrop's store sells furniture, artwork and other home accessories -- wares, he says, that don't cater to this week's crowd.

"My customers aren't going to ride a shuttle bus to shop here," he said, referring to the parking restrictions within Sea Pines this week.

The tournament's "good for the island, and we're happy to have the exposure," he said. "But our customer base won't be returning until next week."

Most shop owners along the harbor, however, reported a boost in business.

"This tournament means a lot, for sure," said Katie Bauer, manager of Planet Hilton Head. "We see a big drop-off in business, maybe 30, 35 percent, the week after it ends."

Bauer makes sure to stock her gift store with items that might appeal to this week's clientele, such as sunscreen and comfortable shoes.

Nadia Wagner, manager of the Harbour Town Lighthouse, said business drops about 25 percent the week after the tournament, adding, "I can't imagine working here without the Heritage."

Kathleen Mahoney of Currents, a women's clothing store, called this week the busiest of the year and was seeing a surprising rise in male customers.

"We do have some women that need a little break from their husbands that stop in, but there are also a lot of men shopping for their wives this week," she said.

Mahoney added some temporary employees and extended shop hours -- closing at 9 p.m. instead of 6 -- to help cope with the crowd.

Men were also stopping by in unusual numbers at Suzanne Mousseau's Fashion Court, a gift and apparel store near the harbor.

Mousseau said she's come to expect the atypical clientele this week and is careful to adorn her window displays with golf-themed baby clothes and shirts.

She's also keeping longer hours.

"We're closing at 9 now, instead of about 7 or 8. And I'm getting here a couple hours earlier." She laughed, then quipped, "But I'm not sure if that's because of the Heritage or the parking situation."

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