Local businesses aim for success during Memphis in May

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis In May is all about music, meat and money for local businesses. But how exactly are they cashing in?

"Each event for Memphis in May brings a different audience," Memphis in May Vice President Robert Griffin said.

Fans from at least 25 different countries and all 50 states have already purchased tickets to Beale Street Music Fest.

This is the type of boom Joann Massey, with the city's Office of Business and Diversity, looks forward to.

"Since Mayor Strickland took office one of his very important priorities was ensuring that minority women businesses have more seniority," she said.

Massey was hired to bring more minorities into the mix. Now the city has 600 businesses ready to reap the benefits of Memphis in May.

"We're all ready and all prepped."

Rhobb Hunter Jr. is one of the owners of Robusto b Havana Mix downtown. His spot has a little bit of everything to offer visitors.

"At Music Fest alone I have two vendor tents, and I have someone moving around on foot," he said.

For him it's about making a lasting impression.

"The repeat customer is the best thing."

Memphis chocolate maker Phillip Ashley has the same outlook on Memphis in May. Ashley says he's making sure tourists stop by his store.

"We're taking you on a tasting tour of Memphis. It has things like barbecue. Of course, we have a barbecue fest, so we had to do barbecue chocolate," he said. "There's a banana pudding one named after Penny Hardaway. It's called 'Penny Candy.'"

With a newly opened Midtown location, Ashley is hoping his featured Taste of Memphis box will become a staple for anyone with a sweet tooth.

"It's a good time for us to take that momentum and gain more for ourselves," he said.

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