Elvis Fest boosts retail, food business

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Downtown retailers and restaurants say the weekend’s 12th annual Tupelo Elvis Presley Festival was good for business.
Better yet, many retailers and restaurants said sales were higher this year than during last year’s festival.
Retailers reported a rush on all Elvis memorabilia. The Main Attraction sold almost all of its Elvis paraphernalia and Reed’s Department Store did brisk business with its Elvis shirts, tote bags and chocolate.
“It continues to grow like the festival does,” said Camille Sloan, executive vice president of Reed’s.
Tupelo Hardware Co., the store where Elvis’ mom bought his first guitar, also was bustling this weekend.
“It started at noon Friday and it just never quit till we closed about 2 Saturday,” said Howard Hite of Tupelo Hardware.
He had planned to close the store at its regular time of noon but he couldn’t lock the doors because so many people kept coming in, he said.
“When they come in the store, they buy,” Hite said.
Popular items were guitars, T-shirts, postcards and keychains.
He said one visitor from Niagara Falls bought 50 guitar picks to hand out as trip goodies for his friends.
Fairpark Grill and Cafe 212 also reported heavy traffic from out-of-town tourists, noting that it came in spurts as musicians ended their sets.
Cafe 212 normally is closed Saturdays, but owners Jason and Amanda Hayden open Saturdays during the festival.
It paid off, Jason Hayden said, with Saturday business during the festival being more than figures during an average weekday.
Amanda Hayden added that while the difference wasn’t dramatic, sales were up this year on Saturday compared to last year. And, the customers were buying food and drinks, a pleasant turn of events from prior years.
“Usually, most people just want to come in and use the bathroom,” Amanda Hayden said. “We didn’t have that this year.”
Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie. kollath@djournal.com.