‘Taste of Surfside Beach,’ Myrtle Beach fashion show help Red Cross

Celebrating March as “Red Cross Month” has stayed in fashion every year since World War II.

Besides a bevy of blood drives for which the public is asked to donate, the Grand Strand has two major benefits this month for the American Red Cross’ Eastern S.C. Chapter, based in Myrtle Beach. Besides the “A Red Cross Affair to Remember” fashion show and lunch for the “Heroes Campaign” March 27 at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, for which reservations close on March 24, at least 80 Surfside Beach businesses have teamed up for the “Taste of Surfside Beach,” opening Saturday for eight days through March 28 across the first town just south of Myrtle Beach, covering 2 square miles.

The “Taste” event goes beyond restaurants, for various merchants and retailers are taking part. Everyone who buys a passport for “Taste of Surfside Beach” – $10 advance or $12 as of March 21, available at the town’s hall and proximate South State Bank branches – will have access to deals and discounts. They include deals such as 10 percent off grocery purchases at Piggly Wiggly; 20 percent off orders at Hardee’s and Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood; 50 percent off car washes at Surfside Shine Car Wash; and $10 off an oil change, with free tire rotation, at Mason Tire & Auto Service in Surfside Beach.

Check for updates and additions to the full list of participating businesses at www.surfsidebeach.org/events/2015_events/2015_tasteofsurfsidebeach_businesses_march11.pdf.

Members of Surfside Beach Town Council’s business committee shared details about the teamwork that has gone into this first “Taste”: Randle Stevens, a town council member and liaison to this committee, which he formed; Tim Bradford, co-owner of JerriBob’s Mail Service in Surfside Beach; and Sammy Truett, committee chairman and vice president of Moore & Associates Insurance in Surfside Beach.

Question | How long has this “Taste of Surfside Beach” project been in the making?

Stevens | It was discussed last fall. … It stemmed from the business committee, a group of business owners, … and they wanted to start something that would benefit the town. … We got into it in January and said “Let’s go ahead and do it.” … We don’t have a convention center, boardwalk or marsh walk, but we wanted to stimulate the business community. …

We started this not just for restaurants, but for every type of business you can think of, and we also tied this into helping the Red Cross. … When you buy the “passport,” that $10, or $12, goes directly to the Red Cross.

Q. | Is everyone seeing the birth of an annual tradition?

Stevens | Yes, we want to do this every year to kick off our season. … The main thing is to get people to come to Surfside Beach. … It’s basically to stimulate the business economy and help a good cause. A lot of credit goes to the people who are working on this. … I went out there, and everybody surprised me. It’s all about helping those small businesses; they need all the help they can get. … And if the weather is bad for one or two days, we still have six or seven other days.

Q. | How encouraging has helping put this initiative into action, and seeing the reaction from participants, been as a win-win-win situation, with the Red Cross also benefiting?

Bradford | I have been on board with this from day one. … On the business committee, we came up with the idea, and Randle has been so instrumental in this. … The Red Cross: They are always in need, and always, always, always serving the community in emergencies.

Q. | What has been JerriBob’s contribution and special role in preparing for “Taste of Surfside Beach”?

Bradford | We have done the printing, and the signwork, from A to Z – everything that has anything to do with the signage and the passports. … And we’re participants of course; we pack and ship, and we’re a full-service print center.

Q. | In planning “Taste,” how did this roster of participants grow to be this big from the get-go?

Truett | We didn’t want it to be a one-sponsor, one-location, one-day event. We wanted to spread it out and let the people visit the community participants at their leisure. They’ll have eight days, basically, to take advantage of the discounts and deals. … The key, I think, is to let people know of all the different things we offer in Surfside Beach.

Q. | How easy was the choice to have the Red Cross also reap rewards from “Taste”?

Truett | I have gotten to know Nanci Conley (executive director of the Red Cross, locally), and I served on the Red Cross golf tournament committee. That’s kind of how I got my familiarity with what the Red Cross does. … If people just really understand what they did, they would really be in awe.