Saugatuck/Douglas Businesses Reaping Benefits Of National Awards Recognition
As most of the area’s merchants, restaurateurs and B&B owners can attest to, one major factor for the huge surge in tourists this summer was Saugatuck winning the USA Today’s nationwide contest “The Best Coastal Small Town in America,” this past spring.
“It’s been the first time this year the store has broken $1 million (in sales),” Glik’s Store Manager Jenna Green told The Local Observer newspaper Tuesday.
Located on Butler Street in downtown Saugatuck, the family-owned boutique chain opened five years ago and offers casual wear, shoes and accessories for adults and kids.
Indeed, it’s been a record-breaking year for many local businesses.
“There are a lot of people around,” said Butler Restaurant General Manager Stephen Phelps, adding that he has never seen as many people in his 15 years working at the popular eatery.
“We see it all,” he said of the places where visitors are coming from—East Coast, West Coast, Europe, South America, etc.
“We do ask our customers, ‘Where did you hear about Saugatuck?’ We read about it here or there,’ they say. It has a lot to do with the publicity Saugatuck has gotten,” he said, specifically referring to the USA Today 2015 poll, the highest national recognition the community has acquired to date.
Besides winning the USA Today contest, the resort town has been gathering momentum from previous years as well.
In 2014, the community was voted the “Best Weekend Getaway in the USA,” also a national competition put on by USA Today.
“Every year we have seen an increase (in commercial activity),” said Green, echoing a familiar sentiment.
Much of the credit for the national recognition - and influx of new and repeat visitors this year - goes to Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
It was Fairchild who led the local, state, national and even international voting effort that led to the USA Today recognition.
In turn, Fairchild credits the success of “The Best Coastal Small Town in America” effort to the many folks who were involved in the voting race.
She also attributes it to the area’s international reach: the CVB’s global network of promotional organizations and just the many people knowing about the area.
“We had many people engaged in the process (for the USA Today poll), every person we knew, every organization, every community leader, everyone we could think of,” she said.
“It was a brutal competition—I am talking about major places, Ogunquit in Maine, Rehoboth Beach in Delaware” were in the competition, “but many great people helped us come out on top and we are now enjoying the results!”