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Officials consider bringing back Beale St. Bucks as crowds return

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 10:07 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Beale Street crowds are back and looking very similar to pre-pandemic days.

“Well, we’ve been so excited to see business improve really ever since March,” said Joellyn Sullivan, owner of Silky O’Sullivan’s.

Sullivan says business is really booming since health officials extended last call to 1 a.m., giving tourists who arrive on Friday plenty of time to get to Beale Street.

With later hours come bigger crowds and a concern about crowd control.

“Safety is a number one concern for us,” said Paul Young, president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Young says he has already been in talks with city officials about bringing back Beale Street Bucks, charging a fee to get on the famous street. It’s unclear exactly which weekend that could happen.

“We haven’t determined those trigger points yet. We’re still researching and doing our analysis. Over the next two weeks or so, we will announce some things around that,” said Young.

“Would you be willing to pay to come on Beale? I don’t think so. And why is that? It’s a nice attraction, but $5 just to walk,” tourist Wesley Echols said.

Echols who is visiting from California says most of the restaurants and clubs on Beale already charge a fee to get inside.

Sullivan says she’s worried about any additional barrier customers may have.

She says if the city brings it back, customers should get more than just access to the street.

“One thing merchants like about Beale Street Bucks is when it has a currency value, when it’s a coupon so the customer gives up $10, but they really get a $10 value back,” Sullivan said.

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