Are local businesses booming during the Azalea Festival?


DOWNTOWN WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Azalea Festival Street Fair kicked off Friday evening, and while many people are excited about all the vendors lining up along Downtown Wilmington others are not too happy.

“It’s a little bit frustrating in that we’re the people here in Wilmington all the time,” Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts President, Pat Holleman said. “And then of course all a lot of the vendors come from everywhere and they get full play during this time.”

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For Holleman, an empty store during the Azalea Festival is pretty common.

“The street fair is right outside our door and people tend to just go down the street for the fair and miss the businesses that are a stones throw away,” Holleman said.

While Holleman loves the festival itself, business wise it is not great.

“Most of the people who come here come for the outside activities and do not come in to the brick and mortar businesses,” Holleman said. “So it doesn’t have a real positive impact on us.”

Several other retail shops also say aside from losing business, the traffic and parking is terrible for their employees.

However, for PureLife Wellness Center Owner Victoria Chavez, she is having the complete opposite experience.

“For Azalea Festival we do pretty good,” Chavez said. “We actually set our season through Azalea Festival because we get to meet new people. There’s tourists that come down, people who have just moved to Wilmington, and yeah the tents might block us a little but it’s our job to make sure we’re marketing to the people who are out there.”

Chavez said she is working with the vendors.

“I think if we start building a relationship with the vendors it makes it easier for us to get them to refer them,” Chavez said. “Like ‘Hey check out the Cotton Exchange, they might have what you’re looking for.'”

Chavez hopes this will be the best year yet for her business.

Overall, most businesses say it varies each year. For the Java Dog Coffee House, they say they may lose regulars during the festival but gain tourists so it all balances out.