Myrtle Beach Bike Rallies

Bikefest vendors debate, should they stay or go?

Jay Johnson sells t-shirts in Atlantic Beach on Saturday.
Jay Johnson sells t-shirts in Atlantic Beach on Saturday. Audrey Hudson

Wil Herron of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, kept his merchandise covered with plastic sheets Saturday, the sample t-shirts flapping in the rain and wind above his vendor stand in Atlantic Beach.

“It’s going to be a washout for us,” Herron said.

The main thoroughfare of the historic seaside village was packed Friday night with motorcycles participating in this year’s Atlantic Beach Bikefest, but Herron said customers don’t usually buy merchandise until the second night, once they’ve checked out all of the other vendors.

If Tropical Storm Bonnie brings thunder and lightning by Sunday as predicted by weather forecasters, Herron says he’ll pack up shop and head back home.

“Ain’t nothing you can do in this kind of weather,” Herron said.

Sylvia Dunston of Raleigh, North Carolina, has been coming to Bikefest for 20 years — the last two years as a vendor selling the popular pineapple drinks.

She says she will also pack it up Sunday if severe storms develop.

“Nobody’s going to be here if there’s thunder and lightning, and I’m scared of that,” Dunston said.

The parking lot at the Myrtle Beach Mall was packed with vendors on Friday, but by Saturday evening, nearly all had packed up and left.

“I’m not going anywhere, it’s paid for,” said Darrayle Cooper of Columbia, who sells jewelry.

“People you see in the rain, those are your serious shoppers,” Cooper said. “It ain’t over yet.”

It is for Jay Johnson, who came from Atlanta to sell t-shirts. The vending business is his livelihood, and he travels every weekend to different events and bike festivals.

He was hoping for a big crowd for the Memorial Day weekend, but says it’s not paid off.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. No one to blame, but the weather,” Johnson said. “Rain comes with the occupation, but a tropical storm, that’s different.”

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson