Beale Street Merchants Association proposes cover charge

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Merchants on Beale Street are considering a plan to make visitors pay a cover charge.

The $10 fee would be assessed on busy night and weekends.  Visitors would receive most of the money back in the form of Beale Bucks.

Ty Agee with the Beale Street Merchants Association said incidents like Sunday morning's brawl in which several people were arrested are what they want to stop.

"Saturday night it gets so full," Agee said.  "A lot of trouble.  We've had people not spending money and they're just hanging out."

Under a plan proposed by the association, a $10 cover charge would be assessed on Saturday nights.  Customers would get back eight dollars in Beale Street Bucks they could spend however they wanted.  Of the two dollars left, one would go to more security and one to charity.

Right now, the Beale Street Merchants Association spends its own money on 24 private security people.

The reaction was mixed from tourists on Beale.

"I think it's a great idea, considering there was a shooting here the other night," said Jerry Richmond of Boston.  "You're going to spend money anyway.

"I don't like the cover charge getting to the street," said Christi Craig of Kentucky.

"My opinion is you're going to come to Beale Street to buy something," said Joy Patton of Chicago.  "If you're willing to pay $10, I don't see nothing wrong with it."

No tourists said extra security was a bad idea, but they did say they all felt safe.

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