MONEY

This Summer, Sharks Want to Take a Bite Out of Your Wallet

This summer, there is no escaping from sharks: shark TV shows, movies, merchandise, and even shark tourism have chomped down on America's collective imagination and are thrashing us all about.

Sharks—or more precisely, the fear of sharks—have a long history of helping to sell stuff. Movie tickets, for instance. Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” not only kicked off the summer blockbuster as a phenomenon, but is also widely considered the biggest and best summer blockbuster film of all time. A series of sequels and other shark movies followed, as did the ever-expanding, factually questionable “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. In the so-called “Summer of the Shark,” in 2001 (mere weeks before 9/11, it’s often noted, when very different fears took over the American consciousness), unwarranted hype over shark attacks was used to sell magazines and keep viewers glued to 24/7 news channels, awaiting word of the next deadly aquatic encounter.

We’re still fascinated by sharks, and sharks are still being used to grab our attention and perhaps a few of our dollars. Lately, though, in an age dominated by memes and ironic-air-quotes “entertainment,” the cold-blooded mankiller of the deep has been replaced by an equally fictitious creature—the shark as adorable mascot.

This summer, “Shark Week” has been joined by the straight-to-cable arrival of the gag “movie” “Sharknado 2.” But given how much over-the-top goofball hype goes into “Shark Week” itself—Rob Lowe waterskiing atop two great whites anyone?—the Discovery Channel event seems to be its own best parody.

This summer, the merchandising of sharks and “Shark Week” has been, in a word, shark-tastic (the title of a book sold on the Discovery Channel, naturally). Among the roughly 150 items listed on the site as appropriate purchases for “Shark Week” celebration are shark kites, a Shark Week smartphone case, Shark Week bottle openers and coozies, “clever” shark T-shirts that say “Bite Me” and “I’m Hammered,” and Shark Week cupcakes that show Rob Lowe atop his pal sharks again.

Elsewhere in the ocean of summertime shark products, Dunkin’ Donuts is selling a Shark Bite Donut (the frosting resembles a life preserver) starting next week, and Cold Stone Creamery has shark-themed cupcakes and ice cream sundaes, complete with colorful gummy sharks. Limited-edition “Shark Week”-inspired soap is available at one New York City boutique, while a “Shark Week” search at etsy turns up more than 1,300 hand puppets, pencil holders, custom-designed panties, pieces of jewelry, and other crafts. A whole other list of goods have been devoted to the frenzy around “Sharknado,” including a new perfume called “Shark by Tara,” created by one of the movie’s stars, Tara Reid.

The normally sober tacticians at Consumer Reports even got in on the action, using the Sharknado sequel as an excuse to run a review of chainsaws—the perfect weapon in the battle against sharks falling out of the sky.

Then there’s shark tourism. It might seem odd that any beach community would actively want to associate itself with sharks. Yet the effort to brand Chatham, Mass., the town on the elbow of Cape Cod—near plenty of seals and therefore sharks too—as something along the lines of the Shark Capital of America has been several years in the making. Starting in 2009, news spread that biologists were tagging great white sharks off the coast. Sure, it freaked some swimmers and boaters out, but it also drew the masses to the coast, bearing binoculars with the hope of spotting one of the beasts.

“The great white shark is sexy,” Lisa Franz, Chatham’s chamber of commerce chief, explained to the Boston Globe last summer. “Chatham as a town, I think, has embraced the whole shark concept,” she said. “As long as nobody gets hurt.”

Fast-forward a year, and the shark schlock business is booming. “Truthfully, we’ve probably grown about 500 percent in terms of the sale of our shark apparel,’’ one Chatham tourist shop owner offering “T-shirts, hoodies, hats, belts, dog collars and other accessories” featuring great whites for $10 to $45 told the Associated Press in June.

People seem to love the shark meme so much that local restaurants and shopkeepers understandably have a new fear: They’re scared about what would happen to business if the sharks suddenly went away.

MONEY Food & Drink

5 Beer Trends You’ll Be Seeing This Summer

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Joshua Rainey / Alamy

Your know-it-all beer geek friends may be a little annoying. But man, do they have great tips on what you should drink!

Here are some trends and hot topics being discussed in craft beer circles this summer. Read up if you’re interested in beer—or so you can pretend you know what your beer-nerd buddies are talking about.

The Craft Beer Motel
Sure, beer enthusiasts look, sniff, and savor their beloved brews. But sometimes that’s just not enough. For the beer lover who wants to take the relationship to the next level—sleeping together—Delaware’s Dogfish Head, regularly ranked among America’s best craft brewers, opened the Dogfish Inn in July. The lodge’s 16 rooms are described as being “filled with thoughtful, beer-centric amenities and design elements,” including beer-scented soap and shampoo, with rates starting in the mid-$200s. It’s located near the Dogfish brewpub, not far from the popular summer tourist area of Rehoboth Beach, but something tells us a lot of guests will never see the beach.

Beer Camp
Sierra Nevada, the second-biggest craft brewer in America (after Boston Beer Co./Samuel Adams), collaborated with a dozen smaller brewers to collectively produce Beer Camp. Yes, such a place exists: Since 2008, Sierra Nevada has hosted brewers, beer writers, and other industry folks to Northern California for an intensive two-day retreat known as Beer Camp. But this year, beer lovers around the country get to attend Beer Camp (sorta) with the purchase of a Beer Camp 12-pack, featuring a dozen beers created by Sierra Nevada and partner craft brewers around the country.

The collaborators include North Carolina’s Asheville Brewers Alliance, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company, and Wisconsin’s New Glarus. Not only are the collaboration brews themselves special, these are brands that may not be available normally in your neck of the woods. Thanks to Beer Camp, you can get a taste without traveling across the country.

We’ve Got Monks Who Brew, Too
Authentic Trappist beers, which are brewed by monks at Trappist monasteries, are regularly ranked among the world’s best. There are only 11 breweries in the world allowed to have the Trappist label, the best known of which is probably Belgium’s award-winning Chimay, sold in fancy corked bottles. As of June 2014, the U.S. has its own monk-brewed Trappist beer, thanks to the launch of the Spencer Trappist Ale brewery, hosted by St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass. The arrival of the monks’ internationally renowned beer label in the U.S. has drawn the attention of everyone from NPR to the Boston Globe, and “Good Morning America” to UK publications like Independent. And, of course, it’s gotten the attention of beer lovers.

Sour Beers
The Brewers Association, Thrillist, New York Post, tons of foodie restaurants, and the Serious Eats blog are among the many sources to proclaim sour beer as the style “beer geeks are buzzing over” this summer. This is despite the fact that the latter described a first smell of sour beer as “horse butt dabbed with vinegar and blue cheese.”

Despite the sharp, funky smell, sour brews, which have a tart, make-your-mouth-pucker, all-in-all sour taste, are supposedly the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer day. They’re not at all heavy or rich, like brews more suited for winter, yet sour beers may be a little extreme for the average Miller Lite drinker. That may be part of the reason why they’re so hot among craft beer aficionados.

The Sad (But Righteous) Decline of Light Beer
Any beer nerd worth his salt wouldn’t bother talking about a pathetic pale American “beer” like Coors Light or Bud Light Platinum. That is, unless the talk was about how poorly these mass-produced brews have been faring in the marketplace, thanks at least partly because consumers are opening their eyes to joys and superior taste of local craft beers.

Earlier this year, Pete Coors, the chairman at Molson Coors, lamented to the Denver Post about bars removing the taps of mass-market brews like Bud and Coors Light and bringing in craft beers on draught to take their place. “We have a lot of bar owners who are enamored with craft beers,” Coors said. “They are beginning to take off the premium light handles and putting bottles behind the bar instead and replacing the handles with craft beer handles.”

Light beer sales have been declining for years, as has the market share for big beer brands in general, but lately the drop must put the world’s biggest brewers in an especially bitter mood. Businessweek recently cited data indicating that light beer sales fell 3.5% last year, including a 19% dip for Bud Light Platinum, and that domestic light brew sales will hit a 10-year low in 2015. And in beer-crazed places such as Oregon, more than half of the draft beer served is now craft product that’s brewed in the state.

MONEY Tourism

WATCH: You Can Gamble Almost Anywhere, So Atlantic City Casinos Fold

As more states allow gambling, former gaming destinations like Atlantic City are struggling to attract tourists.

MONEY deals

3 Tricks to Live Like You’re Rich Without Paying for It

JetSuite
JetSuite Jessica Ambats

Private jets, swanky restaurants, and top-notch hotels can all be had without paying anywhere close to top dollar.

Okay, so you can’t afford flights on private jets and five-star hotel stays. Don’t sweat it. Few people can.

But don’t let the usually astronomical prices of “the good life” hold you back. If you want a taste of how the other half lives—and shops and travels and eats—a few smart strategies and good timing can bring the price tag down to a level within almost anyone’s budget. Here’s how to go about it.

Fly on a Private Jet … for a Coach-Class Fare

JetSuite, a unique flight aggregation service, sells seats on private jets that are about to depart for places like Martha’s Vineyard and the Bahamas. For travelers who can book at the last minute—with a few friends, usually—it’s an opportunity to skip security lines and travel like a CEO, at a price on par with coach. Recent deals, which had to be booked on the day of travel or at most one day ahead, include a one-way flight from North Kingstown, RI, to Vineyard Harbor (Martha’s Vineyard) for up to six people, and Oakland to San Jose, Calif., for up to four people, for $536.

MarketWatch pointed out that JetSuite is one of several services offering discounted private jet bookings. Others include Surf Air and Flight Air Taxi. In most cases, to get the best deal you’ll have to be extremely flexible with your schedule, and be ready to head to a private runway with a few buddies at the drop of a hat. That’s a small price to pay for snagging a cheap flight that otherwise would cost thousands.

Eat in a Swanky Restaurant … for Half Price

Even the finest restaurants have trouble attracting a crowd at the early bird special time of 5 or 5:30 p.m. To fill tables during these slow periods, restaurants have been turning to discounting services such as Groupon Reserve, which typically give diners 20% or 30% off for reserving a table before the peak dinner rush, or they simply offer their own early-dinner deals.

Recent Groupon Reserve deals with a 5 p.m. reservation time included 30% off at Italiannissimo in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Bissap Baobob in San Francisco, or Mela in Boston. Unlike the usual Groupon deal, with Groupon Reserve there’s no prepayment required, and no need to hand the server a printout or flash a smartphone screen. The discount is automatically factored into your reservation, and yes, it’s applied to the table’s entire bill—booze included.

This summer, the Wall Street Journal also called attention to high-end restaurants that have dipped into the realm of “early bird” deals without making them seem like only something your grandparents in Scottsdale would go for—and without bothering with any coupon site or online service. For example, Recette, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, has a Summer Supper special from 5:30 to 7 p.m. only featuring four courses for $40. Normally, the restaurant’s multi-course tasting menus start at $78.

Enjoy a First-Rate Hotel … for $25

Rooms at the Savoy Hotel in Miami Beach generally start at around $250 during the off season. But a summer special is being offered to guests for just $25. The catch? The deal doesn’t include a hotel room. It’s a promotion aimed at travelers—and locals in particular—who want a taste of high-end hotel amenities at a cheap price, and who are already set with accommodations. The $25 grants a guest access to the Savoy’s plush pool area, fitness center, and beachfront, with all the pool recliners, towels, and free wi-fi you want.

The Savoy’s day pass deal is one of several in South Florida highlighted recently by the Miami Herald. The “day-cation” promotions sometimes come with perks like spa treatments and lunch, though when those extras are included the package tends to cost a lot more than $25. On the flip side, daily deals for, well, day-only deals at hotels from sites like Travelzoo and Groupon sometimes mean that guests can take advantage of non-room hotel and resort amenities for even less than $25 per person.

Many high-end Caribbean resorts also welcome visitors to partake of their amenities even if they haven’t booked a room. Understandably, such resort day passes are often marketed to cruise passengers, who obviously have no need for overnight accommodations but who might enjoy kicking back at the pool, swimming on the private beach, and taking advantage of the resort’s buffet while the ship is in port. The cruise experts at CruiseCritic rounded up a long list of Caribbean resorts offering day passes, which cost as little as $12 per person.

MONEY Travel

Marriott’s CEO Just Made a Pretty Good Sales Pitch for … Airbnb?

Apartment in Barcelona, Spain offered through airbnb.
Apartment in Barcelona, Spain offered through airbnb. courtesy of airbnb

Take it from the CEO of one of the world's largest hotel companies: If you want to sample an authentic neighborhood when traveling, go with an airbnb rental, not a hotel.

The hotel industry has an uneasy relationship with the peer-to-peer lodging rental giant airbnb. Lawmakers and hotel industry lobbyists have attacked the airbnb model, accusing hosts of operating illegal hotels that don’t meet safety code regulations, and that more often than not aren’t paying taxes like they should. Data cited recently by The Economist indicates that in cities where airbnb has established a significant presence, the revenues at budget hotels decreased by 5% over a two-year period ending in December 2013. And the amount of business taken away from low-end hotels by airbnb could increase to an estimated 10% by 2016.

At the same time, people in the hotel business—particularly the midlevel and higher-end hotel business—tend to be pretty dismissive of airbnb. If folks in this world talk about airbnb and sharing economy businesses at all, it’s generally to argue that these upstarts or “disruptors” are not legitimate threats to established hotel industry players.

That’s pretty much what Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson first had to say about airbnb during an appearance on CBS This Morning this week. When asked about airbnb, Sorenson dismissively described the service as an “interesting experiment” that was “fun to watch.” It’s like what Starbucks would say of a kid who opens up a lemonade stand in front of one of its cafes: cute, but nothing whatsoever to worry about. What Sorenson said airbnb certainly was not was a genuine competitor to Marriott. By extension, he’s saying it’s not a threat to the rest of the big hotel brands out there either.

As the conversation continued, however, Sorenson wound up pointing out several of airbnb’s unique, attractive attributes—features that a regular hotel can’t compete with. “They do some things that we can’t do,” Sorenson said of airbnb. While tourist hotels tend to be found strictly in tourist areas, an airbnb rental is located, by definition, in a neighborhood where real people live. An airbnb rental is a way of trying a neighborhood on for size, without making the commitment of actually renting or buying. Referring to Manhattan, Sorenson said the thinking is, “I want to live in the East Village for a while, or I want to live in the Upper East Side for a while, and see what it feels like.”

The attraction of an airbnb rental isn’t limited to people curious about living in a given city, Sorenson said. Plenty of travelers visiting cities strictly as tourists want a taste of the authentic neighborhood life as well. “Some people love it, not just millennials but boomers” as well, said Sorenson. The mentality is: “I want to experience a neighborhood, even if I’m on vacation.”

There, in a nutshell, is one of the great arguments for skipping a hotel in favor of renting a room, apartment, or entire house from a random stranger. The other big argument, of course, is cost. An airbnb rental will almost always cost significantly less than a hotel offering around the same space for a visitor. A Priceonomics.com study published last summer showed that compared to hotels, on average, you’d save 21% by renting an entire apartment on airbnb, and 50% by renting just a room from an airbnb host.

Despite Sorenson’s comments, we probably don’t have to worry about him secretly being on airbnb’s payroll. After praising some aspects of its “interesting” model, he made it clear that sharing lodging with a stranger “is not everybody’s cup of tea,” and that many travelers “don’t want the creepiness of not knowing who my host will be.”

He also gave a plug to Marriott’s new hotel brand, Moxy, which the company designed with IKEA for millennial travelers. “We want to make sure that we have brands with increasing levels of affordability,” said Sorenson. “One of our newest brands, for instance, is Moxy, a brand we’ll open in Milan for the first time this year. It’s a reinvention of the economy lodge segment.”

The Moxy concept is aimed at young connected travelers who want a social atmosphere. Interestingly, that also happens to be a pretty good description of the typical airbnb traveler. And “a reinvention of the economy lodge segment”? That’s a phrase that sounds like it could have been pulled directly from the airbnb website.

MONEY Tourism

Diagon Alley vs. Legal Pot: How Their Big Opening Days Match Up

A dragon breathes fire above The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley during a media preview
A dragon breathes fire above The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley during a media preview at the Universal Orlando. David Manning—Reuters

A new theme park area in Orlando and marijuana stores in Washington state both opened for business for the first time on Tuesday.

And that, perhaps surprisingly, is not the only thing they have in common. Here’s how the two opening days match up:

BACK STORY
Diagon Alley: Followup to very successful launch of Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park
WA Pot Shops: Followup to very successful launch of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado

IMPRESSIVE STATISTICS
Diagon Alley: Universal Studios says Diagon Alley will double the size of its Wizarding World theme park area
WA Pot Shops: Washington says it will collect $190 million in pot-related taxes and fees over the next four years

OPENING DAY WAIT TIME
Diagon Alley: Up to 300 minutes (a.k.a. five hours) for visitors to get inside the park on Tuesday
WA Pot Shops: Up to one day—at least a couple people waited in line overnight outside pot shops anticipating a Tuesday opening

RANGE OF PRICES
Diagon Alley: $96 to $136 per adult
WA Pot Shops: $12 to $25 per gram

CORE DEMOGRAPHIC
Diagon Alley: Anti-authoritarian fans of magic and fantasy
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same

PERSON YOU MOST WANT TO AVOID
Diagon Alley: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Half-Blood Prince vs. Order of the Phoenix
WA Pot Shops: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Cannalope Haze vs. Jamaican Lion

THING THAT WILL FREAK YOU OUT
Diagon Alley: Creepy animatronic goblins staring at you on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Creepy alive goblin-like customers staring at you—or at something—in front of the pot counter

RESTRICTIONS
Diagon Alley: Minimum height of 4 feet to ride Gringotts alone
WA Pot Shops: Minimum age of 21 to purchase marijuana

WARNINGS
Diagon Alley: Many rides not recommended for women who are pregnant and people prone to nausea
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same

MOST MEMORABLE THRILL
Diagon Alley: Trip on the Hogwarts Express
WA Pot Shops: Trip on edible marijuana snacks like those “enjoyed” by Maureen Dowd

WHAT’S SMOKING
Diagon Alley: Fire-breathing dragon atop the Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much everybody

MONEY Tourism

World’s Tallest Observation Wheel Prices Come Down to Earth

The High Roller at the Linq
The High Roller at the Linq, a dining and shopping district at the center of the Las Vegas. Yaacov Dagan—Alamy

The High Roller, a new attraction in Las Vegas that gives tourists a view of Sin City 550 feet up in the air, is already being discounted to try to boost ticket sales.

The High Roller opened this past spring as the focal point of the LINQ, an open-air shopping and dining district. The Ferris wheel-like attraction—an observation wheel that holds 40 passengers in each of 28 pods, modeled on the London Eye—launched to much fanfare in April. It is not a thrill ride per se, moving at only one foot per second and requiring a half-hour to complete a full circle, but the idea is that the views from 55 stories will prove thrilling. One man reportedly waited six hours to be among the first passengers to board a High Roller pod on opening day to the public.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and the idea of such a wait is especially laughable. From the beginning, many complained that the price of a High Roller ride was just too expensive. A basic daytime ticket originally cost $24.95, and a ride after 6 p.m. runs $10 more. (By comparison, a ride to take in the view at the 869-foot-high Stratosphere observation deck, usually costs $18 for adults, $12 for hotel guests, locals, and seniors, and $10 for kids ages 4 to 12.) The Las Vegas Sun reported that many High Roller ticketing options have quietly gotten cheaper, however, apparently to juice sales during the slow summer season.

The daytime adult ticket was dropped to $19.95 at least through Labor Day, and youth rates for kids ages 13 to 18 were reduced permanently to $14.95 during the day and $24.95 at night. (Kids 12 and under are free with a paying adult.) Family packs have also been introduced, with two adults and two youth tickets selling for $50 during the day and $80 at night.

The new pricing structure is hardly the only way Caesars is trying to fill empty High Roller pods. An ongoing Tuesday special cuts prices in half for locals (anyone with Nevada ID), and locals get $5 off on rides every other day. A Groupon for a $65 VIP High Roller package for two (valued at $109.90), with two rides, two souvenir photos, and two drinks, was introduced in mid-June and still hasn’t sold out. (It probably hasn’t helped sales that a water main burst in mid-June, flooding the LINQ pedestrian areas directly below the High Roller.)

Sure, everything goes on sale eventually in Las Vegas, where wheeling and dealing are ingrained in the culture. But it’s not a good sign for the future success of the High Roller that it appears to be forced to resort to deals and discounts within a few scant months of being the hot new thing on the Strip.

Meanwhile, plans for a second Sin City observation wheel, the 500-foot-high SkyVue, across the street from the airport and Mandalay Bay, seem to have been put on hold. While ground was broken for the SkyVue three years ago, last month the Las Vegas Sun put the crane and scaffolding on the site—the only physical progress on display—into the category of “eyesores to tourists and commuters” in the city.

Oh, and even as one High Roller competitor seems to have faded away in Las Vegas, forthcoming rides in other locations are poised to steal its thunder as the World’s Largest Observation Wheel. A 625-foot-high Ferris wheel-like attraction is in the works for New York City’s Staten Island, offering views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Not to be outdone, a 689-foot-high Dubai Eye observation wheel is planned as the centerpiece of manmade island in Dubai with a five-star hotel and a cluster of tourist and shopping facilities.

MONEY The Economy

Hurricane Arthur’s Threat to the July 4 Economy

A major storm is threatening the East Coast on the biggest holiday weekend of the summer, and evacuations have already sent hundreds of thousands of people scurrying away from the coast.

+ READ ARTICLE

Hurricane Arthur’s timing couldn’t be worse. While hurricane season technically starts in June, few expect big storms to arrive before late July. Tourists tend to think of the Fourth of July weekend as a pretty safe bet.

“You expect it to be hot, maybe a little muggy,” says Douglas Woodward, a University of South Carolina business professor who has studied the economic impact of hurricanes. What you don’t anticipate is a storm strong enough to force 250,000 people to evacuate (which is what happened in North Carolina’s Outer Banks), or that caused one major city (Boston) to move its Fourth of July fireworks show up a day to avoid Arthur at its peak.

“I’ve been here 28 years, and I don’t recall a significant storm hitting this early in the season,” said Woodward. “You think maybe over Labor Day there could be one, but not July Fourth.”

It’d be reasonable to assume that the economic impact of such a storm, which has caught many tourists off guard, is likely to be devastating. Surprisingly, experts and even local business owners don’t think this will be the case.

(MORE: It’s Hurricane Season: 5 Ways to Disaster-Proof Your Finances)

“The timing’s bad, that’s undeniable,” said William Hall, an economics professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. “But all signs indicate this will be a mild storm. It’ll be a short-lived event.” Hall predicated that power outages will be “minimal,” and estimated that coastal retail businesses might see revenues fall one percentage point or two because of Arthur. “There will be a lot of people who cancel today or tomorrow at hotels, but most of them will be replaced by walk-in traffic, so those rooms will be rented,” he said. The storm “will have an impact, but won’t be anywhere near a 100-year impact.”

Even in Boston, where Fourth of July festivities were hurriedly moved a day earlier to avoid the incoming storm, Arthur isn’t supposed to put much of a hurting on the economy. Boston 4 Productions, the group responsible for Independence Day fireworks and an evening Boston Pops concert, is merely turning their previously scheduled dress rehearsal—which traditionally draws 75,000 people—into the main event. So the costs incurred by switching the date are mostly a wash.

Steve MacDonald, the company’s spokesman, says that workers had successfully finished loading pyrotechnics on Wednesday night, so the fireworks show would be ready for Thursday (rather than Friday) evening. Ultimately, the show looks to remain on budget. “The biggest cost is to the public having to adjust their schedules,” said MacDonald.

Arthur also seems unlikely to seriously impact local Boston businesses. Randy Clutter, general manager of Bistro Du Midi, a French eatery just a few blocks away from the city’s Independence Day events, explained that the Fourth of July isn’t a particularly essential weekend for the restaurant business.

“If this would happen on New Year’s Eve, that would be a disaster,” said Clutter. “Valentines Day, that would be a disaster.” On the other hand, the Fourth of July “is not a make-or-break day for us.” Clutter expects traffic to be down about 30% on Friday, but doesn’t foresee the storm having a major impact on his bottom line.

In fact, many businesses stand to benefit from the fact that Arthur has thrown a huge number of tourists’ plans up in the air. Most obviously, the 250,000 Outer Banks evacuees have to go somewhere. While many will simply go home—if they live in Raleigh, for instance—others will wait out the storm in motels and spend money in inland-town businesses and restaurants along I-95, where traffic is sure to be horrendous. “It’ll help Cracker Barrel, that’s for sure,” said USC’s Woodward.

In the popular South Carolina beach destination of Myrtle Beach, chamber of commerce president Brad Dean told the Sun News that he expected spending to be strong. “We anticipate a wet, windy start to the holiday weekend, which may actually drive some business to the indoor amusements in our area, but overall it will be a fun time for visitors and residents,” Dean said on Wednesday. “Visitors are still planning to come, and the weekend should be packed with vacationers.”

Yet while Arthur’s economic impact appears that it won’t be catastrophic, the arrival of a major storm so early in the season is worrisome for a different reason. “This was supposed to be a mild season,” said UNCW’s Hall. “But it sure is starting off with a bang, isn’t it?”

Longer term, the economic impact of Arthur and similar storms on the Outer Banks depends largely on how Highway 12, the lone road to Hatteras Island, holds up. “It’s the most vulnerable stretch of highway in America,” said Robert Young, director of Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the road’s upkeep, which is damaged and even washed away in parts on a fairly regular basis. When that happens, the road can be closed for days, sometimes weeks, and beyond the millions spent on repairs, there’s obviously a sizeable impact on local businesses, beach rental properties, and the vacation plans of thousands of tourists. “It’s such a vulnerable road that it doesn’t have to be a big storm to cause major problems,” said Young.

MONEY Travel

7 Great American Vacation Spots (That Won’t Bust Your Budget)

Our mission: to find a geographically diverse group of top U.S. destinations where your summer travel dollars can — with a little bit of planning — go a very long way. Then: recommend particular attractions, eateries, and places to stay that will make the most of your visit without breaking the budget.

Nashville, TN

If Bristol, Tennessee, is the birthplace of American county music, Nashville is where it moved after growing some sideburns (or curves). Soak up live performances any night of the week and spend your days investigating Nashville’s many other artistic, gustatory, and historical delights.

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Johnny Cash Museum

Do: During the daytime, get heady on harmonies at the Johnny Cash Museum — where you can see the singer’s handwritten lyrics and Martin guitar ($15 entry) — and the Country Music Hall of Fame, which just underwent a $100 million expansion ($25; $2 off with a visitmusiccity.com coupon). Then hit a Grand Ole Opry live radio show (from $29.50, three days a week) for big names like Blake Shelton, as well as old-school and up-and-coming performers. For a taste of Nashville’s noncountry scene, check out the Stone Fox for the nightly live performances, many with no cover charge, and $1-off happy-hour specials. If visual art is more your speed, you can enjoy works by Goya, Hopper, and Wyeth at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located in a renovated Art Deco post office ($10), and take tours of 135-year-old letterpress shop Hatch Show Print — during which you make your own print to take home ($15).

Eat: Go for a handmade pasta, like garganelli verdi with heritage pork ragout ($17), at Rolf and Daughters, which opened last year in a 100-year-old factory building in Germantown. Then there’s Pinewood Social, a restaurant/karaoke bar/bowling alley, great for treats like hot sweetbreads ($13) and pork-belly salad ($12). But no matter what else you eat, don’t leave town without trying Prince’s Hot Chicken, which is nothing short of a buttery, crunchy, fiery revelation ($7.65 for a half chicken). It’s a few miles northeast of downtown, on the way back from Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage estate. Newcomer 400 Degrees, near the Hall of Fame, is a close second ($5.86 and up).

Sleep: If your timing is flexible, you can snag discounts at hotels that reward you for longer stays. The Hutton, where rooms typically range from $200 to $300 per night, offers 15% off three-night stays and 20% off four-night stays this summer. Save even more by staying farther from downtown: A new branch of Homewood Suites in the Vanderbilt area, just west of center city, costs 30% less than the downtown Homewood Suites in August — $180 a night compared with $260.

Splurge: Good cowboy boots ain’t cheap, but you can allay the sticker shock by checking out the bargain section of French’s Shoes and Boots. Before bed, grab a nightcap at The Patterson House, a gorgeous speakeasy (and celebrity hangout) serving up class, sass, and incredible cocktails.

 

Portland, OR

Portland has a well-earned hipster rep, but it’s also become a buzzy culinary hotspot. Isn’t it time you went to taste the hype for yourself?

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Danita Delimont—Alamy

Do: Get your bearing with a free walking tour from Secrets of Portlandia, billed as a “stand-up comedy about Portland’s history and culture (twice a day through September 3). You’ll get a rundown of various neighborhoods, see the city’s best known street art, get bar and restaurant recommendations, and more. Still feeling a little of that World Cup fever? Get tickets for the Portland Timbers, the popular local Major League Soccer team. Of, if you’re after a more intellectual pursuit, head to Powell’s City of Books, the flagship of the world’s largest independent chain of bookstores. The store is always hosting interesting readings and book clubs, so check the calendar to see what’s on while you’re in town.

Eat: Portland is a foodie favorite known for two things: creativity and affordability. Start your noshing with the city’s famous food carts. Go to Foodcartsportland.com (or download their 99 cent app) to get the scoop on where to find the most mouthwatering options. One to try: Gastro Mania, home of the $8 foie gras burger. Check Under the Table with Jen, a local food blog run by Jen Stevenson, for sit-down eats. For an evening of wine, cheese, and charcuterie, Stevenson recommends Cyril’s: “It has a ‘secret’ patio, and they just added a bocce court.” Finally, don’t leave town without a stop at the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts, one of the originators of the creative doughnut craze.

Sleep: Portland has some great hotels, but if you’re traveling mid-summer, you’re unlikely to find a well-located place for less than $250 a night. For a more affordable option, try the Everett Street Guesthouse, which is an easy walk to many restaurants and cafes and a six-minute drive from downtown. Rooms start $100, including breakfast.

Splurge: If you’ve ever watched IFC’s Portlandia, the Portland-based comedy starting former SNL cast member Fred Armisen and musician Carrie Brownstein, you remember the “Put a Bird On it” sketch. That scene was filmed at Land, a store/gallery that carries a range of affordable gifts and artworks made by local craftspeople. No matter your taste, you’ll likely find a goodie worthy of a spot in your suitcase.

 

Santa Fe/Albuquerque, NM

New Mexico perfectly captures the spirit of the Southwest — and is full of fun, affordable activities. Start in Albuquerque, then drive an hour northeast to Santa Fe, home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in the country.

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http://www.visitalbuquerque.com

Do: With among the highest concentrations of Native Americans in the country, New Mexico is a great place to learn about Navajo and Zuni Pueblo culture. In Albuquerque, catch a dance performance and read about the history of the state’s 22 tribal communities at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center ($6 admission). If you’re visiting in August, try to catch the Santa Fe Indian market, where more than 170,000 people gather each year to learn about and buy contemporary Native American arts and crafts. For a dose of 20th century Americana, check out Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum ($12 for adults, free for youth under 18) — and don’t leave the state without catching a dramatic sunset on North America’s longest aerial tram, the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque ($20).

Eat: Enjoy the kitchy décor and savory diner-food-with-a-twist at Owl Cafe in Albuquerque; try the sumptuous green chili cheeseburger ($5.25) and the onion loaf ($4.95) — a plateful of thin, golden rings piled high. Up in Santa Fe, there’s something for everyone at Harry’s Roadhouse, where the saucy and delicious tacos, burritos, and enchiladas can all be made vegetarian. Generally, top-rated Mexican food abounds, so you just have to remember one rule: Dip those sopapillas in honey.

Sleep: Even nicer hotels in Albuquerque are much less expensive than their counterparts in other cities: The Hotel Parq Central, top-rated on TripAdvisor, charges less than $150 a night for stays in August. Santa Fe is considerably pricier, so go for a bed and breakfast instead, like the whimsically decorated El Paradero Inn, where rooms are available from $155.

Splurge: Take advantage of the hot-but-dry desert weather at the outdoor Santa Fe Opera, which shows original works alongside classics like Carmen. Ticket prices range based on dates and seats from $30 to $300.

 

Long Beach Island, NJ

Don’t be misled by the Jersey Shore GTL stereotype. While there is certainly plenty of fist pumping in some New Jersey beach towns, Long Beach Island is more of an old-school family getaway, complete with salt water taffy, mini-golf, and 18 miles of beach.

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Do: Climb the 217 steps of the Barnegat Lighthouse for panoramic views of the island and Barnegat Bay ($3 entry fee). You may even be lucky enough to be in town when the lighthouse is open for a “night climb,” which happens just a few times per summer (check the schedule). When you’re ready to hit the water, try a lesson at LBI Surfing. Non-surfers may want to try an SUP—stand-up paddling—class instead. Group lessons are $55 per person. Finally, don’t forget to grab a beach pass; they start at $5 a day.

Eat: You’re on vacation, so eat some fried food. Locals like The Clam Bar in Beach Haven. Try the fried flounder and fry platter for $12.95 or go old school with Clams Casino ($9.95). The line can get long, but you can always call ahead for take-out (and no matter what you do, mind the no cellphone policy!). For another fun indulgence, head to the infamous Chicken or the Egg, once featured on the Man vs. Food show on the Travel Channel. You’ll have plenty of egg dishes to choose from, of course, but the casual eatery is also known for its chicken wings, which come with a choice of 16 sauces.

Sleep: Rather than overpay for a funky beach hotel, look into renting your own place. A recent search of AirBnB turned up 1-bedroom condos starting at $160 per night, and a 4-bedroom cottage for a manageable $190 a night. Bonus: Many rentals come with bikes, grills, and beach chairs.

Splurge: Go to the original Ron Jon Surf Shop, opened in 1961. You know you want a new pair of board shorts or sunglasses, so pick them up at this massive, wonderfully cheesy beach emporium.

 

Yellowstone National Park, WY

America’s national parks are a shared treasure — and Yellowstone is the granddaddy of them all. Check an important item on your domestic bucket list and pitch a tent here.

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Neal Herbert—NPS

Do: Swim, hike, and horseback ride through the two-million-plus acres of our country’s first national park, containing the world’s largest collection of geysers and hot springs — which come in every color of the rainbow. Bring binoculars to get the best view of Yellowstone’s wild fauna, including bison, elk, bobcats, coyotes, moose, mountain lions, wolves, and bears. And of course, catch a glimpse of Old Faithful erupting. The park’s $25 entrance fee is good for a week’s stay, and seniors older than 62 (and their families) and military families can get in for free.

Eat: Nothing beats the smell of barbeque mingling with the fresh outdoor air, so cook outside in one of the park’s designated picnic areas for pleasure — and savings. If you need a break, grab a seat in the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room, located right next to the famous geyser, and order the smoked bison and pheasant and chicken sausage ($15.95) or make your way to Roosevelt Lodge for some farm-raised trout ($18.75).

Sleep: Hotels and cabins are available within the park, but you should decrease the hit to your wallet and up the excitement by pitching a tent in one of Yellowstone’s tent and RV campgrounds. Whereas a room at the Old Faithful Lodge can go for $124 a night in August, camping sites are only $21. There are five grounds where you can reserve spots online, and seven that are first-come, first-served.

Splurge: Bring along some high-quality thermal underwear — the park is surprisingly cold at night, with average lows in late August dipping below 40 degrees. And if you make any gift shop purchases, avoid this book, unless you want to spend your evenings dreaming about bear attacks.

 

New Orleans, LA

Despite its reputation as a party city, New Orleans is much more than beads and bachelor bacchanals. The city is rich with culture, food, lore, and one of the most American of musical genres — jazz.

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Viewminder—Flickr

Do: Get to know New Orleans and its history intimately with one of Free Tours By Foot’s two-hour walking tours, after which you tip the guide whatever you’d like. Start with the French Quarter tour, where you’ll learn about the city’s founding (details are delightfully macabre and salacious) and see historic spots like the Tennessee Williams house. Then branch out with the cemetery or Garden District tours, where you might glimpse a celebrity pet. In the evening, unless you are a dead serious jazz enthusiast, forgo the long line and $30 ticket prices at Preservation Hall and enjoy a live performance at effervescent (and free-of-cover) Fritzel’s.

Eat: Trying the sweet, fluffy beignets at Cafe du Monde ($2.65 for three) is a crucial rite of passage for NOLA visitors, as is ordering a po’boy from one of the city’s many worthy shops. Wash down the grease with the quintessential New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac, at the quintessential New Orleans bar: the Napolean House ($7).

Sleep: Skip chain hotels like the Marriott or Hyatt, where prices typically top $200 a night, and soak up local charm by staying at a family-owned bed and breakfast. At the 1830s Creole-style Bourgoyne Guest House on Bourbon Street (just north of the hubbub) you’ll pay only $95 a night for studios overlooking a quiet inner courtyard. The plates in the attached kitchenette come in handy to collect crumbs from a late-night muffaletta.

Splurge: Reward yourself for hours of walking — or dancing at The Spotted Cat — with dinner at romantic, atmospheric SoBou. An appetizer of sweet potato beignets is fancied up with foie gras fondue, duck debris, and chicory coffee ganache ($12).

 

Chicago, IL

Always one of America’s most exciting cities, Chicago really comes alive in summer, when residents can finally shed all those layers and get out and enjoy their town.

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Stephanie Lamphere—Flickr

Do: No matter what part of the city you’re itching to explore, you’ll find an intriguing itinerary at ChooseChicago.com. The site runs down a weekly calendar of what’s going on, and suggests routes through 51 different areas. You’ll also find a bevy of free activities throughout the city this summer, including 30 concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. For more culture, seek out one of the dozens of shows put on by small theater companies every weekend. Tickets usually range from $15 to $35 and Chicagoreader.com offers current listings. Finally, no one with even a passing interest in America’s Game should skip Wrigley Field. Check the schedule and get tickets—some at as little as $20—at the Cubs’ website.

Eat: Start with the classic: a Chicago-style hot dog topped by sport peppers, tomato slices, and bright green relish from Hot Doug’s on the North Side. Or, for the type of neighborhood joint locals love, Stephanie Callahan, of food blog Stephanie Eats Chicago, suggests Home Bistro in Lakeview. “It’s a cozy, BYOB place that always has the best ingredients and freshest flavors,” she says. Want a $20 a person dinner (including tax and tip)? Get away from the downtown Loop for a range of ethnic food, including Mexican, Indian and Vietnamese.

Sleep: Hotels in the city center are pricey in summer, but you can save by choosing a B&B. Check out options in Chicago’s North Side neighborhoods, such as Andersonville, Old Town, or Wicker Park. The Wicker Park Inn, for instance, has rooms in July for $159 a night and occasionally offers special rates as low as $99.

Splurge: Reward yourself for a day of serious sightseeing with an al fresco cocktail at Shanghai Terrace, in the Peninsula Hotel. A Green Tea Mojito or Sour Cherry Old Fashion goes down even easier with a cool breeze and sweeping skyline view.

Need more ideas for summer sojourns? Take our quiz: Which Movie Matches Your Travel Style — and Dream Destination?

 

 

MONEY Sports

Hottest, Weirdest, World Cup Collectibles

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Panini World Cup stickers—collect all 640 of 'em! Mario Tama—Getty Images

In addition to the usual suspects bought by soccer fans by the truckload, hot-selling 2014 World Cup souvenirs include obscure country flags, dog jerseys, and Brazilian-colored (and flavored) condoms.

Among the surprising (and not so surprising) World Cup merchandise that’s been popular with fans thus far in the tournament, here’s a list of the most interesting, best-selling collectibles:

Official Adidas World Cup Soccer Ball
OK, not much surprise here. The official Adidas Brazuca World Cup ball was expected to be a monumental big seller, and it appears that it will be just that. Adidas says that it is on pace to sell more than 14 million Brazuca World Cup balls worldwide this year, priced from $12 to $160 in the U.S. That’s one million more balls than the company sold during the last World Cup, in 2010 in South Africa.

Panini World Cup Stickers
The Italian firm Panini has been making and marketing stickers and sticker albums for the World Cup since 1970. There’s a sticker featuring every player participating in the tournament, and the 2014 edition has a total of 640 stickers for fans to collect.

And collect they do. A pack of World Cup stickers sells for 99¢, and researchers estimate that a collector would have to buy nearly 900 sticker packs to complete an album on one’s own. But given the enhanced sticker-swapping possibilities offered by social media, there have been individuals like a 35-year-old British fan Russ Cockburn, who became the envy of collectors when he completed his book in just six weeks with an outlay of less than $200, thanks to Facebook and Twitter.

In any event, soccer merchandise sellers around the world—including sporting goods stores in U.S. locations ranging from Staten Island, N.Y., to Richmond, Va.,—report strong sales for sticker albums and sticker packs. FIFA also hosts an online sticker album app that’s attracted more than 2.5 million users.

Colorful Cleats
As the New York Times Fashion & Style section noted before the World Cup even began, the traditional “color” for cleats (black) has been replaced by pink, purple, bright red, and pastel blue, with some neon stripes and fluorescent tones here and there. Virtually all the players in the soccer apparel world are embracing colorful cleats—namely, Nike, Adidas, and Puma.

The latter has taken the trend to a particularly odd extreme, with the Puma Tricks collection. They’re the cleats worn by players such as Italy’s Mario Ballotelli, and even in the marketplace’s colorful footrace they stand out because one shoe (left) is blue and the other is pink. Nike is pushing a lineup of futuristic red and neon yellow-green cleats, and Adidas is leaning on the zebra pattern and neon colors featured in various Messi Battle Pack shoes, including one pair that retails for $230. That doesn’t even include the special shoes just unveiled by Adidas for Lionel Messi’s 27th birthday. Only 27 pairs of the neon-rainbow-splotched cleats have been made, and anyone who gets their hand on a set should know that they’re worth a lot more than $230.

As for Nike, on Saturday it introduced a special new edition of the Hypervenom Phantom cleats, which are bright gold in color–and have a price tag that suggests they’re made of actual gold to boot: $545.

Oh, and will any of these cleats actually, you know, help you play better on the soccer field? Who knows. But it’s all but guaranteed that the feet at your local soccer field will be featuring a lot more neon in the near future, if not already.

Germany World Cup Jerseys
Adidas, which is based in Germany, reports that it has already sold 80% to 90% of the World Cup jerseys it had when the tournament began. By the time a champion has been crowned, the sports apparel giant anticipates more than eight million jerseys sold—roughly one-quarter of which will feature the colors of Germany. The company will sell more than two million Germany jerseys, regardless of how the team fares in the rest of the World Cup. “If Germany wins, we still can sell a few more but this will not materially change our results,” Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said this week, according to Reuters.

Flags (of Winning Teams)
A popular flag store in Philadelphia has noticed a direct correlation of country flags sold … when the country’s team is about to play a big match, and especially when the team is winning. For instance, the flag of Algeria, which advanced to the second round for the first time ever with a win over Russia, was a hot seller for a while. On the other hand, once-strong sales for the flags of Spain and England have tanked after their teams were eliminated, as have a wide range of jerseys and other merchandise featuring the disappointing squads.

Jerseys (of Hot Players)
Early in the tournament, the top-three best-selling player jerseys, according to U.S. sports apparel specialist Fanatics.com, belonged to Brazil’s Neymar, the World Cup’s leading scorer; Robin Van Persie, the Dutch forward who scored what most observers say is by far the best goal of the tournament, an epic header against Spain; and the captain of the U.S. national team, Clint Dempsey. Recently, Fanatics.com reports that Mexico’s Chicharito has pushed into the site’s top three for jersey sales, and sales for gear for Mexico’s team in general has spiked 180%. Now that Mexico has been eliminated, presumably sales will decline, though perhaps not as steeply as merchandise featuring Spain and England.

Jerseys (for Dogs)

Among the many kitschy souvenirs being hawked by vendors in Brazil, one store in Sao Paulo said that its surprise hottest seller has been a $14 dog shirt with Brazilian colors and the #10 on the back—the number of Brazil’s leading scorer, Neymar.

World Cup Condoms
Global sporting events like the Olympics are associated with increased demand for condoms, so it makes sense that when the sexiest country of all hosts the World Cup, it’d spur on enough condom sales to fill a rainforest. Sure enough, the World Cup-themed Prudence brand condoms, which sell in a three-pack for around $1.39 in Brazilian pharmacies, have been hot sellers. According to Agence France-Presse, the first 850,000 packs of condoms, which were supposed to last three months, sold out in 15 days.

“I think there must be foreigners who will take it home as an inexpensive souvenir,” said Daniel Marun, the Brazilian director of DKT International, a family-planning nonprofit that ordered the condoms—which happen to taste like caipirinha, Brazil’s famous cocktail.

Whatever condom-selling records are set during the 2014 Brazil World Cup, get ready for it to be broken in two years, when the country hosts the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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