Katara Simmons/News-Sun Beverly Branam of Galeria 301 will have extended hours this weekend and is looking forward to meeting new people during the Run to the Heartland event.
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published: Friday, October 04, 2013
Merchants, vendors geared up for motorcycles & money
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- If you listen closely this weekend, underneath the roar of the motorcycles you may be able to hear the cha-ching of cash registers.
The Heartland Riders Association is gearing up for it's 10th annual Run to the Heartland event, which starts at 10 a.m. today and lasts through the weekend in downtown Sebring, and local merchants and event vendors are revving their engines, too.
The Run to the Heartland has evolved into one of the county's largest events and this year is shaping up to be bigger and better than before.
Banners hang around the Circle, posters are in place in merchants' windows and 'Motorcycle Only' parking signs line the streets of the Circle and its spokes.
City workers were busy setting up the stage near South Ridgewood bright and early Thursday morning just after 7 a.m.
Though the street and tent vendors were cleared for set up until 4 p.m. Thursday, one of the vendors took advantage of their rental space to the fullest Thursday.
Jim and Dee Hashman, owners of Biker Stuff by J&D, were unloading a trailer full of biker merchandise and goodies just after noon Thursday. The Hashmans are no stranger to bike festivals and events, however, this year marks their first time participating in the Run to the Heartland.
"We've been to Sebring before but never for this event," said Jim. "We do about 46 shows in 52 weeks all over the state and we travel out of state quite a bit."
The Fort Myers-based couple, who have been riding for longer than either of them were willing to admit, has turned their love of motorcycles and the open road into a full-blown business.
"We sell a lot of items -- jewelry, leathers, cigars, sunglasses. There's a lot of merchandise and we sell it for reasonable prices," Jim said.
Biker Stuff by J&D has brought more than $20,000 worth of merchandise for the three-day event. The couple is looking forward to their premier space at the Run, inside the air-conditioned former Boys and Girls Club Emporium at 205 Circle Park Drive.
"The VIP area is just next to us here so we're hoping we can do well," Jim said. "I tell people all the time that we are bikers, just like them. We ride these same roads right with you, so we will give honest and fair merchandise and prices. I don't want anybody bad-mouthing me sitting at a bar that I could just walk right into and sit down in right next to them."
As the Hashmans continued their early jump on set-up, local merchants and businesses were gearing up for their weekends taking special care to include the Run to the Heartland patrons in their businesses.
Galleria 301 owner Beverly Branam, one of the newer business owners in the downtown area, is eager to see the big crowds roll right past her doors this weekend.
"I'm one of the diehards around here. I'm the newbie, so I've been staying open late for every special event and I stay open until 6 for regular business hours. Most of the stores here close at 4," Branam said.
Branam will keep the doors of Galleria 301, which has been open since mid-May, open for business as long as customers are coming in and out of her doors this weekend.
"I'm going to be a team player. I made it through the summer and I've stayed busier than I ever thought I would so I'm excited about this event and all the ones to come in the future," Branam said.
Galleria 301 (at 301 Circle Park Drive) will feature Harley Davidson merchandise such as clothing and commemorative decor.
The city's Chamber of Commerce downtown office will be open throughout weekend and will feature the friendly faces. Jan Groves, chamber volunteer, said that ABATE will return to the chamber this year and offer educational items and information about motorcycle safety, roads and riding.
The bustling downtown area will be a sight to see this weekend filled with motorcycles, music, food and fun.
Many of the area's merchants will be open for business featuring theme items and merchandise. RTTH is open to the public and free for admission.
For more details visit www.hra-sebring.com/.
On a pontoon~ (by: Blindman~ - 10/5/2013)
After taking in the Shannon Reed Band last night on the Circle I was feeling romantic because one of the songs reminded me of the Good Ol' Days on the river banks down from the Red Neck Yacht Club when the Spurlock girl was singing something about... catching rays & making waves on a pontoon~ On the way home I couldn't stop talking about that song and some of our most private passionate moments ever on a pontoon~ So my wife says to me; "ya know honey, when we get back home maybe we should try it again" and I said; TRY WHAT? And she said; "we need to get back online and try to apply for OBAMACARE!"
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