BECKLEY, W.Va. -- As the time neared for the National Boy Scout Jamboree, with its thousands of scouts and volunteers, business owners near the Summit Bechtel Reserve site had high hopes for a flood of customers.
But although the Jamboree has boosted sales for some businesses, some business owners say they had hoped for more.
"Expectations for the Jamboree were speculative and somewhat naïve," said Dave Arnold, a member of the West Virginia Tourism Commission. Arnold was part of the original panel charged with bringing the Jamboree to West Virginia.
According to Arnold, many people expected congested roads and hordes of visitors throughout the Jamboree. Newspapers and television stations even warned locals to stay away from restaurants and highways.
But the traffic and long lines never materialized -- and now Arnold suspects that local customers are staying home to avoid the promised "carnage and craziness."
Doug Maddy, CEO of the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, called the regional trend for businesses a "mixed bag." Some have seen diminished sales, others have seen normal customer levels, and others have done well, he said.
Brian Williams, owner of Pasquale Mira Restaurant, said he has received no new customers since the Jamboree began -- and has actually seen the numbers drop from regular season averages.
"I never drank the Boy Scout Kool-Aid," Williams said. "It has done nothing for our business."
Calacino's Pizzeria owner Jerry Zaferatos bought West Virginia caps and pins to give passing Scouts and visitors. But those hats remained practically untouched late last week.
Over the last three weeks, Zaferatos said, he's had an increase in customers -- about 30 percent -- but nothing since the Jamboree began.
But Arnold said that no one should judge the economic impact of the Jamboree based on revenues from a few days during the Jamboree, or even from the entire month of July. He called that approach "short-sighted."
Jamboree organizers had a longer-term economic goal.
"The big economic impact is that [the Jamboree] puts Southern West Virginia on the map for a million Boy Scout families," Maddy said.
Those families will come back to West Virginia again and again, he said, but the economic impact may take several years to fully emerge.
Sally Kiner, executive director of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted that the Boy Scouts remain on the Summit site for meals and bring boxed lunches when they venture out for community service projects. That may have contributed to somewhat lackluster restaurant sales, she said.