Grandma’s gives back: Area businesses feel race’s economic impact

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From 150 runners in 1977, to over 20,000 in 2023, Grandma’s Marathon has become an economic powerhouse for the Twin Ports, producing an economic impact of over $20 million every year. And for businesses like The Social House; a Hermantown business which opened its doors just in time for Grandma’s, it’s a huge weekend.

“It was trial by fire in opening up Grandma’s week,” said Owner, Matt Berthiaume. It was a little crazy, but we got through it. Saturday was amazing. We were packed all day. It was really, really fun. Sunday morning was fantastic, too. We felt like people were still staying in town before they checked out. They came in. Not a lot of people knew about us because we were up in Hermantown. A lot of people that come before the Grammys stay down here, that it should go up on the Hill. So for us, it was amazing.”

In 2019, race attendees spent millions in the Duluth area according to a University of Minnesota study looking at the race’s economic impact that year. The same year, Grandma’s spent $3.1 million to host the race, and hired 84 people.

“The community gives us so much throughout the year that it’s nice that the community benefits from from what we’re doing right,” said Zach Schneider, Public Relations Director for the marathon. “And so it’s a responsibility that we don’t take lightly. We disrupt people’s everyday lives for grandma’s marathon weekend. And so the hope is that they not only participate in it and enjoy it when it’s happening, but also they benefit from it in the short and the long term. And this year, with the number of participants, we saw the family and friends that they brought to town. This this was a big grandmas marathon weekend. It was our biggest one since 2016 in terms of participation numbers. And so the community hopefully felt that this past weekend. And, you know, the economic impact of it, hopefully their pocketbooks for the business owners and the community members around here, we’ll feel it as well.”

Many Duluthians dread the crowds and traffic marathon weekend brings, but the dollars that pour into Twin Ports businesses are critical.