MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said she believes there is a connection between what some of the shops along Ocean Boulevard sell and Saturday’s shooting on the strip.
Earlier this week, the state Supreme Court sided with the city in that its smoke shop ban downtown was constitutional.
Some stores downtown are still selling CBD and tobacco products, but Bethune said those products do not belong on Ocean Boulevard if the city’s hub is to be what she calls “family friendly.”
She went a step further and even said the shooting Saturday is a reason why she backed the ban.
“I do believe there is a direct correlation between the products that are sold in some of the businesses on the boulevard and the type of clientele that we attract,” Bethune said. “We saw with this instance that happened last Saturday with the shooting on Ocean Boulevard.”
Bethune continued, saying that people like the man arrested in Saturday’s shooting don’t come here for more than one day.
“Those people weren’t here spending money in our hotels, spending money in our restaurants,” she said. “They were here from out of town on a day trip to cruise the boulevard.”
Bethune said day-trippers are fine as long as they follow the rules. She also added the city targets families for vacations.
Including the smoke shop ban, Bethune said she pushed for a ban on “explicit” t-shirts downtown.
Bethune told News13’s Manny Martinez the city needs to elevate its image by getting rid of those products downtown where most people visit.
However, Diego Valderrama, with Shopicana, said he believes the blame for Saturday’s shooting is misplaced.
Valderrama believes the shooting didn’t start with anything the stores sell, rather the prevalence of guns.
Myrtle Beach is still working on when enforcement for the smoke shop ban would start.
The ordinance said nonconforming businesses would face suspension or even revocation of their business license.