With racing underway in Daytona Beach, it is special events season and the economic influence of the Daytona 500, Bike Week and Spring Break stretch into Flagler County. For merchants in Flagler Beach, this special events season may be even more important than most after the area was ravaged by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, disrupting businesses, forcing emergency repairs on State Road A1A, and leading to a major effort to restore area beaches. For a look at what special events season means in Flagler County, Michelle Brown, owner of the Flagler Beach Gift Shop, offers the local spin.

How important is special events season?

We’ve started into our events season and it’s incredibly important for Flagler Beach to be up and running full speed and to be ready for the tourists that are coming. We’ve already seen people coming in. I’ve had a lot of people from out of town. I had a couple from Germany and other countries and their only exposure is what they see on major media like CNN. They see the big cities but they don’t see Flagler Beach. It’s really important that Flagler Beach be ready and open as much as we can and also get the word out that we are because we have limited exposure.

Do people still have the idea that beach towns in Florida aren’t open?

I think there’s a lot of uncertainty. And I think what they are doing is they are searching out different methods to find out what’s going on and because we are a smaller city is very hard to get information about our specific city. What I am finding is most of them are still planning trips and coming here and hoping things are as they remembered.

What are your expectations for special events season?

I would say these events are very important for everyone who owns a business along A1A in Flagler Beach. Even though I am in the tourist industry, all the restaurants benefit, all the convenience stores benefit. It’s a huge economic boost. We definitely need it because of the two storms but also January was not typical weather for here so that also slowed things down a little. We are still in a recovery mode and I think we have the ability to hit the ground running and be just as prepared as we can be.