July 26, 2013






Local businesses realize economic lift from marathon
 by JD Rule


   "The economic effect extended over a 50-mile radius," says Carol Dennison, president of the Cobscook Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, "not just Lubec and Campobello." She surveyed chamber members, many located well outside of Lubec, following the recently concluded Bay of Fundy International Marathon. Most respondents, according to Dennison, reported an increase in business from the marathon.
     In an informal survey of local businesses to gauge whether or not the economic benefits of the influx of visitors met their expectations, many merchants were enthusiastic about the results. Jim Heyer of the Water Street Tavern says race day was "my second best day ever." Business at Annabell's was brisk and provided an important boost. Eugene Greenlaw of Bayside Chocolates says it was "really huge," adding that business was "three to four times a normal Fourth of July."
     While local inns and other lodging establishments were booked solid, according to Dennison "a 150 more rooms were sold in Machias than would be normal for that day." Inns in Lubec were filled. However, since SummerKeys was already operating for the season it is likely that they would have been filled anyway. Glen Tenan of the Eastland Motel says he "turned away at least a 150," pointing out that they were "booked up back in February."
     Karen Baldauski of ArtWorksOfMaine says that a number of people visited her gallery then later returned and made purchases, including several high‑ticket items. Northern Tides reported an uptick of about "30 percent better than normal."
     The effect was not uniformly felt, however. Andrea McFadden says, "We expected to pump a lot more gas, but that didn't happen." Frank Talotta of Frank's Dockside Restaurant points out, "People eat where they stay." He adds, "The Pirate Festival is better." He did report selling "a lot of pasta Saturday night," possibly to runners dismayed by the long line at the school where most ate.
     Across the bridge, reports were similar. Sarah Dalton‑Phillips of the Campobello Gift Shop "wasn't expecting much," but still it was "a good day for June." As that particular business was one of the few directly on the race route -- in both directions -- traffic disruptions may have blunted the results.
    While the Lost Fishermen's Memorial Association did not receive as many contributions as they'd hoped, according to President Shelly Tinker they did take in better than $800. The Lubec Memorial Library earned $160 from book sales during the event. Both may have suffered from inclement weather late on Sunday, when many street‑vendors fared poorly.
     Ellen Cohill echoed others on Water Street by saying that business was "two or three times" normal. Dianne Larkin reported that business at her glass‑art shop on Saturday was "fabulous" and that on race day, when access was difficult because of finish‑line activities, she "still had a good day."
     Many local residents have commented on how the marathon effort was the first event in recent memory to bring so many people together working toward the same end. Interviews with runners showed how this paid off; the one common comment was about how much of the local community was involved, which made first‑time visitors feel particularly welcome. The only runner complaint: too many hills. Other runners have dubbed the race "bad‑ass" and say that "if you can finish Fundy, you can finish Boston."
     "They'll be back," asserts Dennison, who is also a member of the race committee. Plans are already under way for next year, she says.

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