MLK businesses worry about Bessie Smith Strut changes - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

MLK businesses worry about Bessie Smith Strut changes

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - On a night that local businesses owners bank on, some worry changes to this year's Bessie Smith Strut may hurt their bottom line. They worry the new location of this year's stage closes them off to the Strut.

Warbit Lowery looks forward to the Bessie Smith Strut each year. "This is one of my busiest times of the year."

But changes in this year's Strut make Lowery worry it won't be good for business. "People will venture because they know we are here, but the one's that don't know we're here, they will not bother going past this stage if there is no entertainment in this area."

In years past the music stage sat near Lowery's Hat shop on MLK, now it sits in front of Champy's, which is sponsoring the stage.

Dionne Jennings, Executive Director, "Because they are sponsoring that stage we moved it up slightly to be closer to his building, and the name changed to the Champy's Chicken Stage."

Lowery says the relocation is going to put a handful of businesses behind the stage, decreasing foot traffic.

Dionne Jennings, Executive Director at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, feels confident all businesses along MLK will profit. "We still will have strutters coming through under the Trussell bridge, so they will come pass all those merchants before they get to the Champy stage, and down to this end."

Jennings says the center asked for input from vendors and merchants, and offered them the chance to set up tents near the stage.

Lowery chose not to set up a tent. His is already set up at Riverbend.

He just hopes next year his name will be thrown in the hat for sponsorship consideration.

Warbit Lowery, "I think we should have been given the opportunity at the drawing board to say we are here and we would like to know what it will take for that stage to be where we can be exposed also."

Ticket prices have also changed this year. It now costs 10 dollars for anyone over the age of 11.

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