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Business in Saline County got a boost from eclipse crowd

  • Band Murphy 500 plays at Total Eclipse of the Heartland Sunday night in downtown Harrisburg.

    Band Murphy 500 plays at Total Eclipse of the Heartland Sunday night in downtown Harrisburg.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

  • Band Murphy 500 plays at Total Eclipse of the Heartland Sunday night in downtown Harrisburg.

    Band Murphy 500 plays at Total Eclipse of the Heartland Sunday night in downtown Harrisburg.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

 
BY TRAVIS DENEAL tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 8/23/2017 11:35 AM

SALINE COUNTY -- Though some doubts remained as late as Friday, many Saline County businesses experienced a noticeable increase in business attributed to eclipse-seekers during the weekend, business owners say.

Mike Duncan, owner of Mitchellsville Country Store about seven miles south of Harrisburg near the intersection of Illinois 34 and Illinois 145, said he's thrilled with the extra business he had from the eclipse.

"It did really well," Duncan said. "I had a big inventory because we stocked up before the eclipse, and they just about ran me out of everything. I had a lot of beer sales, a lot of food sales, a lot of gas sales, and lots of cigarettes."

It made for a busy day at the store, he said.

"Yesterday, after the eclipse, I didn't go home until about 8-8:30. I didn't sit down. I was really impressed with it. I need two of these a year," Duncan said.

The extra business was widespread across the county.

Dan Doughty, owner of Big John's grocery store in Eldorado, was fully stocked prior to the eclipse. Though he was skeptical that he would see a lot of extra business as a result, Doughty said he was surprised.

"It was good. We had a bump," Doughty said. "Yesterday was slow, mainly because people couldn't get into the store it was so busy."

He said business was noticeably higher for the weekend compared to a year ago.

"I had a good bump over last year," he said. "I was sort of a pessimist, but I was pleasantly surprised."

On Sunday evening, the Saline County Chamber of Commerce hosted "Total Eclipse of the Heartland," which featured three entertainment acts on a stage between Morello's and Wooded Hills.

Chamber Administrative Assistant Kristin Shull said quite a few had visited the downtown attraction.

"We had over 300 people attend the event," Shull said. "I've been told that business was good for several of the businesses."

Brett Allen, owner of Sloan Street Market on West Sloan Street in Harrisburg, said his "Eclipse Cookout" Saturday at the store was a smash hit.

"I sold out of everything I cooked," he said. "I had ordered more, so I had more to cook, and I sold every bit of it. If I had had even more to cook, I would have sold it, too," Allen said. "Then, yesterday (Monday) morning, I had people from out of town stop back by and buy things like our frozen pork burgers. Then, by the afternoon, it was slow. It was a good weekend."

Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek said every businessowner he talked to regarding eclipse-related business had an uptick.

"Actually, they all did well. Every one of them I talked to," he said. "Friday was not as good as they expected, but Saturday, Sunday and Monday was good for most all businesses in Harrisburg. Monday was great for everybody here. I think most of the people here showed up Monday."

The city had let people camp for free on an open field it owns on the north end of Harrisburg to view the eclipse. About 20 people took advantage, he said, with another 50 or more stopping by to view the total eclipse.