Salisbury sees boost in business; was it the governor’s shoutout that did it?

COVID-19 vaccine shots in Maryland
Drivers receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at the Wicomico Civic Center on Friday, April 2, 2021. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

Businesses saw a bump this weekend in Salisbury, where the city’s mass vaccination site became the first in Maryland to offer COVID-19 vaccinations on a walk-in basis.

But Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, said it’s hard to know if the increase in traffic and business was tied to the fact that the mass vaccination site in Salisbury started offering vaccinations without an appointment on Friday.

“Talking to the people at the civic center,” where the vaccinations are given, he said “the increase in traffic has been noticeable.”

Gov. Larry Hogan may have helped by urging people to travel to Wicomico County for the Easter weekend, get vaccinated in Salisbury and then hit Ocean City for some Thrasher’s French Fries.

But Chambers said this past weekend also featured a marathon, which drew participants to local businesses as well.

Whether it was Hogan’s announcement or the marathon, Chambers said, “We’re really happy the governor gave us a shoutout.”

It’s no secret, he added, that “the restaurant and hospitality industry really took it on the chin throughout this pandemic.”

Lauren Wilson, who works at Rise Up Coffee on East College Avenue in Salisbury, can attest to just how tough it’s been for businesses like the one where she works. “There were days where I was standing around just waiting for someone to come in.”

This weekend, she said, business doubled — and it did appear that at least for some, the stop for a cup of coffee was tied to getting a coronavirus vaccine. “We did have a few people that were specifically down here for the vaccination clinic,” Wilson said.

The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce represents more than 650 businesses. While Chambers is pleased to see business pick up, he’s also hoping that more people get vaccinated. He and his wife got their COVID-19 vaccinations and he said, “Everyone I talk to, I’m telling them: The difference between getting vaccinated and not could be your life.”

Wilson, the barista at Rise Up Coffee, said she’s looking forward to the day when everyone can take off their masks. It would be nice to see their smiling faces as they order the shop’s trademark coffee smoothies, she said.

“It would be a lot easier to take your order too!” She added with a laugh.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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