How did Obama's visit affect local business? It helped.
Before the last week in August, the question was, would Island businesses thrive during the vacation visit by President Barack Obama and his family. The first family has come and gone, but the question remains: did the Martha's Vineyard economy get a presidential boost? The end of August is always a busy time for merchants, and reviews remain mixed over the impact of the Obama visit on the local economy.
Cheryl B. Stark, owner of C.B. Stark Jewelers in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.
"Yes, we've definitely seen an increase in business the week that Obama was here, and since then. The last week of August and first week of September have been great for us. We noticed a lot of people out in Vineyard Haven, but nobody actually said they were here to see Obama. We all felt really good that he was here, but we didn't expect him to do anything too flashy, like go to a jewelry store. This is our 43rd summer in business, and I didn't feel that we had the same impact with Clinton that we've had with Obama."
Tara Smith, manager of Bowl & Board, currently featuring Eco MV merchandise.
"We definitely saw an influx of people during his stay. I think there were a lot of people here, which was different from last year at this time because business really slowed. I wouldn't say business exploded, but there were definitely more people around when he was. I think that a lot of people planned their vacations around Obama's."
Tamara Weiss, owner of Midnight Farm.
"Business was great; our Obama products flew out the door. We didn't see an increase in sales, but I think we had a great week. We definitely enjoyed the fact that he was here, and it was very fun for the Island. We hope he enjoyed our beautiful island as much as we do."
Zoe Pechter, owner of Riley's Reads.
"I would definitely say we had a run on Obama books right before he came, and we were a little panicked because we were afraid we would sell out. We've had an Obama display since he ran for president, and when people knew he was coming they bought up all the books. I'd say we had a really great summer in general, and there was definitely talk of him in the store when he was on the Island, but there was more interest in the books about him."
Ezra Sherman, owner of Sweet E's Cupcakes.
"Well, Obama didn't come to Vineyard Haven, so I didn't really notice a difference. I think that in the long term it can only help, and it definitely adds a cachet to the Island. This is my first year here, so I really have nothing to compare it to."