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As Sturgis visitors arrive, some businesses close

STURGIS (AP) — As motorcycle enthusiasts begin arriving in the western South Dakota city of Sturgis for an annual rally, another group of people is heading out.

Several Sturgis business owners close down and clear out their merchandise to make way for temporary vendors who pay big money to rent prime downtown space for the rally.

This is the fifth year that Sturgis Center for the Arts Executive Director Roxie Chowen has closed her facility for the rally so a tattoo artist could move in. Chowen told the Rapid City Journal ( it's just part of doing business in the Black Hills community that is in its 73rd year of hosting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The rally draws hundreds of thousands of people to the region annually. This year's rally begins Monday and runs through Aug. 11.

"I like the rally. We've got to let them move in for a bit, then we go back in," said Chowen, who takes her annual vacation each year while the Arts Center is closed for about a month.

She and volunteers began packing up pianos and an assortment of other musical instruments, books, desks, a stage, shelving units and art supplies in mid-July during their annual "Packing Party," temporarily moving everything to a storage unit and the basement of a nearby building.

"I just go with the flow. That's what we have to do," Chowen said.

Antique shop owner Jessica Kerlin is another owner who's making room for a tattoo artist, though she won't be taking any time off. She plans to work at a bar in the downstairs of the building where she rents space.

"I figured if I was going to work, I might as well be in my own basement," she said. "I figured by working the bar, I will have an opportunity to make back some of the money I'm losing in my other business."