St. Joseph businesses hoping for holiday tourism to bounce back
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — This Fourth of July holiday is set to mark the busiest travel weekend since the start of the pandemic, according to the American Automobile Association.
In the AAA’s projections for holiday travel, they say volumes are expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels.
It comes as Berrien County towns, including St. Joseph, have created social districts.
“So many small businesses have struggled, a social district not only provides additional revenue sources for those establishments that had the most severe restrictions, but it also supports all of the businesses around them,” said Amy Zapal, Executive Director of St. Joseph Today.
St. Joseph’s social district spans from sections of State Street and Lake Boulevard, plus Pleasant Street over on the east.
If you’re at least 21, you can stop into wineries, breweries and restaurants and take your drinks with you into any other participating businesses.
As little as it may sound, it’s already driven traffic into stores like Wanderlust Outfitters, which specializes in outdoor apparel – fitting for many of the activities you can do in St. Joe.
“It’s an exciting place to be in the summer, there’s a lot of activity, people on vacation – and as a store, we’re thrilled to see new people come in,” said Sharon King, Operations Manager.
As well as the mother-daughter, dual storefronts of B.Grace Boutique and Waterfront Framing & Design who hope it’s a preview of a busy holiday ahead.
“It’s rewarding to see people’s excitement to be downtown, back to the beach and hearing people say, ‘We have this wedding, we have a dinner party and I need an outfit,’” said Emily Byrnes, Owner of B.Grace Boutique.
The social district runs seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“The energy is coming back and I felt bringing on someone new and younger would not just reinvigorate my business but downtown St. Joe because it’s about creating community,” said Valerie Byrnes, Owner of Waterfront Framing & Design.