The Ocean Shores City Council on Monday continued to question a proposal from Puget Sound Trade Shows and Events to allow beach vending this summer during the planned Beach Blast volleyball tournament event.
The company run by Dennis Irby also puts on the annual Grays Harbor Expo and Bikers at the Beach.
The council was asked to consider a request for tent vending under 10-by-10-foot canopies for sponsors, a beer garden, and sponsor booths during the July 7-9 event, which is part of the Beach Blast plans. The goal is to create 44 beach volleyball courts as well as a main stage and viewing area on the beach, with about 18 vendors.
Irby laid out his proposal to the council on Monday night, while several members of the business community and residents spoke against the idea, and most council members said they were not ready to make such a change.
“I have some concerns about how this could affect business in town,” said resident Eleanor Dorman. “I’m sure it’s going to attract out-of-town vendors, and we have gift shops and restaurants in this town that have expenses all year round, and I think we have to protect them. If we get out-of-town vendors on the beach, that money is going out of town.”
Irby told the council he also is an Ocean Shores homeowner and has been doing events in Ocean Shores for 10 years, and is an 8-year member of the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“I have supported and donated thousands and thousands to local non-profits throughout the community from our events,” Irby said, noting he was asked by city officials three years ago to try to help develop new events for Ocean Shores.
The Beach Blast event, he added, is part of a long-term plan that “is designed to highlight our beautiful beaches.” Over three years, Irby said he hopes to bring in as many as 1,500 teams, with as many as 4,500 youth athletes, and predicts the event could bring in 34,500 visitors and more than $10 million in additional revenue coming into the city.
“It has the potential to fund-raise and fund off-season events,” he said. Permits also are being secured from the state Parks Department and Fish and Wildlife.
“Last year, we finally opened up the possibility of bringing beach sports to the Washington Coast,” Irby said. However, the volleyball associations requested the ability to allow sponsors to have vending booths on site during the competitions. Irby also said he will give local businesses the opportunity to be sponsors as well.
“It is my job as a promoter to bring new visitors to town,” Irby said. “And it is the job of each business to attract those businesses into their establishments.”
Brenda Sias, who runs the two kite shops in Ocean Shores with her husband Andy, noted they also sponsor an annual event on the beach — The Festival of Colors kite festival in June — in the very area where the volleyball tournament will be located.
“If anybody wanted to sell on the beach it would be me, but I do not want vending on the beach,” Sias said, contending if one person was allowed to sell on the beach it would open the door to a flood of similar requests.
Another local business owner, Rod Merrell of Merrell’s Gift Shop &Gallery, questioned what contribution beach vending would make to the local economy.
“In my opinion, there is none. The city already will be filled to capacity. Vendors come in, sell items without a business license. They take the money from the sales they make, along with the tax collected, and go home,” Merrell said.