OXFORD — The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure’s two-day stop in Oxford last month brought a nearly $500,000 infusion into the city’s economy, according to the Oxford Visitors Bureau, and left business owners elated.
The tour, described by participant Ken McCall of Dayton as “1,600 wallets on wheels,” takes a different route each year, exploring the state’s countrysides and towns; Oxford benefited from being a layover spot, meaning the college town was home base for two days before the bikers headed elsewhere.
The Ohio Economic Development Department estimates the value of a day visitor in the state Ohio at about $140 per person, per day. (This figure was used here instead of the “overnight” value of $340 per day, as most GOBA visitors camped out instead of staying in hotels.) This resulted in an estimated $448,000 gain in a 48-hour period, said Oxford Visitors Bureau executive director Jessica Greene.
“The GOBA visitors were interested in locally owned shops and sought out our numerous mom and pop shops,” she said. “They also made a fair amount of stops at hardware stores and grocery and convenience stores for supplies.”
“This is a tremendous impact for the City of Oxford,” Greene said, “and many businesses owners have written their thanks and excitement at having these guests in our town. One business owner opened on [a] normally closed day for the GOBA guests, and reported back, ‘Can GOBA come every year? Heck… every day?’”
Alan Kyger, economic development director for the City of Oxford, said, “We have lots of events that bring a lot of people to town, but what was different about GOBA was we were a rest day for them, so they basically had an entire free day to explore our town. They had a day of play. They could do another excursion if they wanted to, or they could just explore the uptown district. That was a real advantage for Oxford. Other events that come to town, exploring the town is secondary. One of GOBA’s main things is exploring communities they go to.”
“If we have a soccer game in the park,” said Kyger, “the people may come in and have dinner or something, then they go back to their hotel. Almost all the GOBA people went into our uptown district at some point while they were here. Even though it was hot, even though it was muggy, even though they’d ridden 50 miles, they were happy, they were appreciative, they wanted to go places in the community and learn about them. Personally, I would’ve wanted to finish that ride and collapse. This group was focused on exploring communities, and the impact of that was just tremendous.”
Eaton, the second stop on the tour before participants rode to Oxford, saw a spike in business as well.
“It was so exciting to have all of the GOBA riders arrive and stay in Eaton,” said Eaton GOBAtown coordinator Heidi Bortel. “School staff and Boosters, Preble Trails cycling advocacy group, the Preble County Visitor’s Bureau, and other volunteers did an awesome job at making them feel welcome and serving delicious food. Preble County Council on Aging and other volunteers provided transportation, and Eaton PD and emergency personal provided needed support as well. A lot of local groups and individuals gave many hours to be gracious hosts, both in Eaton and at the lunch and rest stops. Wish we could get them back sooner — but they may not visit Preble County for another 20 years.”
Greene echoed Bortel’s sentiments in Oxford.
“We know that GOBA won’t be back for several years because of the nature of their tour,” Greene said, “but we hope to welcome them again in the near future.”