After a year of COVID travel restrictions, businesses that rely on pedestrian traffic are looking forward to tourists returning to Louisville.
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – The July 4th vacation was set to be one big weekend of travel across the country. For local businesses, out-of-town guests are a welcome sight after months of pandemic restrictions.
This time last year, Eric Talbott’s clothing store on 5th Street was boarded up amid protests. Now there aren’t even the boards left.
“Nobody came downtown and I was forced to close my doors,” said Talbott.
Talbott reduced himself to his location in the Galt House, a business model that means he relies on tourists.
“When they come into town, they leave things behind or just like to pick up something new. And I’ve found it really works for me,” he said.
Talbott says tourists will be hard to come by until this weekend. Since many restrictions have been lifted and people are itching to travel, they are eager to shop.
“It feels great, it gives you hope that the future is bright again, so it’s a good thing to see people live their lives and spend money,” he said.
On the 4th weekend of July, these vacationers were also eager to eat.
“It was unexpectedly busy,” said Brady Frederick, bar manager for Against the Grain.
Frederick is used to baseball traffic from the Louisville Bats games, but the tourist rush is more than welcome.
“Fourth Street Live usually benefits a little more than we do, but with Angel’s Envy right across the street a lot of tourists come there for tastings and tours,” he said.
Frederick says the restaurant, like so many others, is struggling with staff, a sign that things are not yet back to normal.
“We’re getting there, but I think it’s going to be a lot more work than we’re used to,” he said.
Eric Talbott is still looking to expand his store and is hoping to reopen a second location somewhere downtown. The challenge is to remind the locals of the shops that are right in their backyards.
“I’m here, I’m open, I’m ready to do business, so come and see me,” he said.
Talbott said his business saw mostly local travelers, people from Nashville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
At Against the Grain, Frederick saw a wide selection, with customers from places like Florida and New York.