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Bethesda Businesses Gear Up for Inauguration 2013

Will you be heading to Bethesda Row to look for an inaugural ballgown?

Bethesda businesses are getting a boost from this year’s inauguration despite predictions of lower tourist numbers.

Hotels in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring area already are filling up or have limited availability, The Gazette reported.

“Our hotels are getting business this year as a result of the inauguration that they would not have gotten last year,” Kelly Groff, director of the Montgomery County Conference and Visitors Bureau, told The Gazette. “When there’s more people in our hotels, there’s more people in restaurants and shopping and taking cabs.”

But local hotels and restaurants aren’t the only businesses making the most of inauguration hoopla. The expected reduction in tourism—only 800,000 visitors this year compared to the 2 million in 2009—has meant more inauguration activity from locals, according to some business owners.

Gretchen Hitchner, owner of Ginger, a Bethesda Row women’s wear boutique has seen a surge in business from customers looking to take advantage of a quieter inauguration.

"We're seeing a lot of new people coming into the store that have never been to an inauguration ball before. They're buying everything from gloves to dresses,” Hitchner said. “With the reported drop in tourism traffic this time around, the locals seem to see this as an opportunity to head in and experience history without the headaches and chaos of 2009."

Megan Stern, manager of Drybar, has a lot to handle, as local ladies plan their outfits, makeup and—perhaps most importantly—hair.

"We're almost completely booked for Sunday and Monday, and have more than doubled our staffing in both of our area locations for Monday," Stern said.

Are you a local planning to attend an inaugural function or two? Let us know in the comments!

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