Airport celebrates opening of stores

By Greg Gelpi

irport officials want to keep passengers happy and spending money while waiting for flights.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport held a grand opening for businesses in Concourse E, an effort to draw more visitors and more tourism dollars.

Atlanta Emporium, one of the new shops, gives travelers a taste of Georgia with state products such as honey, flavored pecans and sweet and spicy peach salsa as well as a section dedicated to Gone With the Wind.

The businesses can also direct visitors to tourist attractions outside the airport.

With the Road to Tara Museum, home to Gone With the Wind memorabilia in Jonesboro, officials hope the airport will be the runway to more money.

Flyers drop in while waiting for flights and during layovers, said Audura Batson, a Jonesboro resident who works in Atlanta Emporium.

Marsha Meadows and Ravi Shelton searched for some cold medicine in CNN Newsstand and said that the international concourse provides more variety than it once did.

"It's a big improvement," Shelton said. "It wasn't a lot of shops (before). I can say that much."

Although, he lives in Los Angeles, he flies through Hartsfield frequently.

"It should bring a lot of money to the city and the airport," Shelton said.

Atlanta Elements features a section dedicated to Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

Science gadgets and gizmos are popular among tourists, Arlene Rozmus, a sales associate at Atlanta Elements, said.

"We get a lot of business travelers who like to bring things home to their children," Rozmus said.

The businesses are a joint venture between the city of Atlanta Department of Aviation, HMS Host and National Concessions Management.

The new businesses at the airport help boost the economy of metro Atlanta and improve employment, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said.

"Partnerships like this one make Atlanta an international business center," Franklin said, adding that the city "purposely" ventures with business for growth.

Metro Atlanta is expected to increase by the population of metro Denver in 20 years, she said.

Ben DeCosta, the aviation general manager of the airport, said the businesses are one more way to please passengers and fulfill the airport's mission to "be the world's best airport by beating customer expectations."

The other new businesses are Brookstone, Tumi, Destination ATL, Global News Express and Starbucks Coffee and Simply Books, which are expected to open soon.