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Downtown businesses say race week is good and bad

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 15 2014 06:33:16 PM CDT
Downtown businesses during race week

Bristol Motor Speedway draws thousands of race fans to this area from as far away as Canada and California.

Karen Hester, owner of Cranberry Lane, was ringing up customers all day on Saturday in downtown Bristol.

"It's always great to see the race fans come in," Hester said. "We have folks that come in every year and make it a point to come and shop with us."

She told us they come from Iowa, Indiana and Michigan to see the races at BMS and to get a taste of downtown.

"We've been selling tons of good food items, moonshine jelly, they've been buying Bristol souvenirs," said Hester.

Once the races start however, State Street clears out.

It's something Blowfish Emporium co-owner Malcolm Wilson is used to.

"I've lived here for 15 years and when the race is happening, either the secondary race or the main NASCAR cup race, locals, if they're not at the race they hide," Wilson said. "They stay home."

Wilson told us that's why he actually loses business during race weekend.

"This year we decided to do something special," he said. "We did some cleaning and have the sidewalk art sale going on."

It seemed to work, with Wilson making hundreds of dollars in sales.

"One time today we had 35 or 40 people in the store," Wilson told us.

Wilson said, despite this success, he hopes more people will decide to test the traffic and come downtown.

"If you're local, the best time to be out is after the green flag drops and before the checkered flag drops," he said.

We're told the Monday following the races is usually the busiest day in downtown Bristol.