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Spring Break traffic brings increased sales

The end of March signals the tail end of spring break traffic and the beginning of another stream of summer beach-lovers.

While spring break may have brought a lot of new business, for most businesses along Highway 231 it's only a small sampling of what the summer sun will bring.

John Hargray, who works at Beeline Store 612 on Highway 231 North said spring break brought a surge of out-of-state customers.

&uot;Traffic went up quite a bit and I could definitely tell there was a big increase,&uot; he said.

&uot;We had a lot of students from Ohio, Michigan and a few from Wisconsin.&uot;

The store's manager Lori Fuller said the first week of break they made $1,200 to $1,500 more in business.

But she said even that increase doesn't compare to the money flow during the summer months.

&uot;The best time is really the summertime,&uot; she said.

&uot;We make $8,000 more a week than we do the rest of the year.

When the weather warms up, we make almost double.&uot;

Holiday Inn Express also said vacationers have kept them busy.

&uot;Spring break has been good to us,&uot; general manager Clem Pennington said.

&uot;We had a full house on Tuesday, we almost had a full house on Wednesday-we were just short one room-and we were short six rooms on Thursday.

I'd say that's pretty good.&uot;

Pennington said March is usually a good month to catch vacationing students and families.

&uot;Families head to Panama City and stop here on their way,&uot; he said.

&uot;Then they get up early the next day go down.&uot;

He said the majority of people who stop are on their way to Panama City's beaches, although a few venture to other parts of Florida.

Waffle House on Hwy. 231 North also saw huge groups of students passing through on their way to Panama City.

Joyful Johns, a Waffle House employee, said they served students from Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, New York, New Jersey and even Canada.

&uot;They came in waves,&uot; she said.

&uot;Each of them came on a different weekend.&uot;

She said each person they served left at least one dollar.

In a group of 20, that meant an easy $20.

&uot;I was actually looking forward to this weekend because it means more money,&uot; she said.

Unit manager Rodney Noel said it would be hard to say whether or not business actually increased notably or not.

&uot;I can't say that there was a huge change,&uot; he said.

&uot;Weekends were probably up 15 to 20 percent, but weekdays have actually slowed down.&uot;

Noel said his regular customers migrated to the Waffle House on the main drag of Hwy. 231.

&uot;This is the first one they see so they stop here,&uot; Noel said.

&uot;The local people are going to the other one.&uot;

Cathia Cook, the manager at the second Waffle House, said her business has been a little slower than usual, despite the shift of local customers.

She isn't the only one who said business was slower.

Apparently the flood of spring breakers also swept away some of the most regular customers: Troy State students.

&uot;Business has been pretty slow,&uot; said Michelle Skeen, who is assistant manager of Blimpies.

&uot;We've had a few travelers come through, but with the Troy State students gone, it's gone down.&uot;