News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local News


Some local businesses in Johnson County take a loss following low eclipse turnout

Johnson County eclpise 4.png
Posted at 6:56 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 18:57:36-04

JOHNSON COUNTY—There was a lot of excitement surrounding the total solar eclipse. With that came lots of preparations, not only from a safety standpoint, but also for local businesses in the line of totality.

Johnson County eclpise 4.png

"Was I over prepared yes,” Emily Worley, the Owner of The Local Grind in Downtown Franklin said. “We were told, for months, that 100-200 thousand visitors would be here."

Worley has two business locations, one in Martinsville and one in Franklin. She says she and her team started planning for the eclipse in December.

For her Franklin shop alone, they bought about 75 gallons of milk in preparation for the eclipse as well as several dry goods and food items in order to meet the demands of the projected crowds downtown, but those crowds downtown didn’t come and it caused her business to take a loss.

Business owner.png

“We personally took a 25 percent loss on sales at the same time we spent 300 percent on labor, and you know it's not the best,” Worley said. “But I do think that the city people in both cities and event planners did their best."

Johnson county eclipse 1.png

According to Festival Country Indiana which houses the visitors center in Franklin, these were the numbers. Franklin went from 14,700 people downtown on a regular weekend to 36,100 on eclipse weekend. The county went from 1.2 million people in the county on a regular weekend to 1.3 million for eclipse weekend, a net gain of 100,000.


Visitors center.png

“We served 2,300 people in our visitors center over eclipse weekend,” Kenneth Kosky the Executive Director of Festival Country Indiana said. “It would normally take us almost six month to reach that. So from a visitors center stand point, we were super busy.”

Kosky says Johnson counties plan all along was to have multiple events taking place across the county. That way no one area was overcrowded or would cause backups.

“We enlisted 50 churches, school's, attractions to host eclipse events and we would publicize them for them and provide free eclipse glasses so that when the eclipse ended at 3:10 p.m. that not everybody was leaving from the same spot,” Kosky said. “Indeed, there were no issues with people going on private property, no issues with traffic, so I think we succeeded in that regard.”


Fire Chief.png

The Bargersville fire chief says they consulted with cities and states that were in the line of totality back in 2017. He says they based their projections on advice from communities like theirs. However, he admits that the numbers were inflated.

"The Kentucky after action report you know they were expecting 500,000 people to come in to their area what they ended up saying they saw was 300,000,” Eric Funkhouser the Bargersville Fire Chief said. “So, they saw lower numbers as well as they were getting there. But it's one of those ones that you have to be prepared no matter what. "

Johnson County Eclipse 2.png

Locals in Johnson County were told to treat the eclipse like a snowstorm. The governor even issued an executive order to support the anticipated needs of Indiana’s emergency response, transportation, communication, and critical infrastructure systems due to the expected high number of visitors traveling to the state to view the total solar eclipse.

Worley says that also caused locals to stay away when locals alone could have brought them more businesses. She also feels there were too many food trucks downtown which took business away from brick-and-mortar establishments like hers.

Johnson county eclipse 3.png

“We found out 10 days before that 20 food trucks would be brought into downtown Franklin,” Worley said. “So, to have that mixed with less than one percent of the estimated numbers of who would be here and we scare off our bread butter regulars, yeah it was catastrophic.”

The Festival Country Indiana visitors center says they did learn from this situation and hope to work with businesses to be more efficient in the future.


Visitors center 2.png

"Lets take those predictions and cut the number of food trucks if we think that it's going to affect the brick and mortar businesses, so that's just one example,” Kosky said. “So, we are certainly going to take what we learned and keep the businesses happy but also make sure we have enough outside help if we think the crowds are really going to blow up.”