With the Gay Head Light relocation project under way and temporary parking rules in place at Aquinnah Circle, shop owners at the cliffs are hoping to weather the changes and eventually to benefit from the publicity surrounding the move.

The Circle is often a busy place in the summer, with access to both the Island’s oldest lighthouse and the iconic Gay Head Cliffs below. But the town parking lot at the base of the Circle is now closed to make room for construction materials, raising concerns about how the move will affect summer business at the Aquinnah shops.

Berta Giles Welch of Stony Creek Gifts: "Lighthouses really speak to people." — Timothy Johnson

In addition to the parking changes, a portion of the Circle will be closed to traffic daily from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority will use a temporary bus stop at the bottom of the Circle from 7 p.m. to midnight. The evening stop is currently being used only on Fridays and Saturdays, but will be used daily beginning June 21.

“It’s not really all that much of an inconvenience,” VTA administrator Angela Grant said Tuesday, adding that evening ridership is much lower than in the day. The frequency of VTA stops will remain the same. “We are not changing our schedule at all,” Ms. Grant said. Last summer, the four up-Island VTA routes carried a total of 43,683 riders in July and 50,351 in August, up slightly from the previous year.

But for some shop owners, the main concern has been whether Island tour buses will continue stopping at the Circle during the relocation, which could easily extend into the summer. Project managers announced last week that the move itself will begin June 10. The summer season on the Vineyard generally starts after schools let out in mid-June.

Berta Welch, who along with her sister Carla Cuch owns Stony Creek Gifts, said the Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing company, which runs Islandwide bus tours, accounts for about 30 per cent of her summer business. In the past, she said, when tour buses were more a staple of Island tourism, the figure was between 50 and 70 per cent.

“I think more people are coming now with their own cars, and the VTA is picking up some of the slack,” Mrs. Welch said. But she added that the lighthouse and the Gay Head Cliffs have always drawn people to the Circle.

“The lighthouse is a very strong magnet to tourism, to lighthouse enthusiasts, to people who have the water spirit,” she said. “Lighthouses really speak to people.”

Business owners said sightseeing bus tours account for 30 per cent of summer business. — Timothy Johnson

Scott Dario, owner of Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing, offered his assurance this week that the full sightseeing tours would continue during the project. He said the company usually brings between 200 and 250 visitors a day to the Circle in June. “It’s a big selling point to the Island and beneficial to everybody,” he said.

To make up for some of the lost parking, the Aquinnah police department will open a portion of the field within the Circle to vehicles, but only once the other spaces fill up. In addition to the 20 or so spots along the Circle road, a residential parking area near the town lot will be open to the public during the project.

“I think the biggest impact will be the parking lot being closed,” Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain said last week. “But we are going try our best to do what we can as far as parking.”

Mr. Dario said the police department has been working diligently to prepare for the summer traffic and to allow tour buses to get as close as possible to the walkway leading up to the shops. “I really don’t anticipate too much of a battle,” he said.

Most of the Aquinnah shops don’t open full-time until Memorial Day, although many were open last weekend for Mother’s Day. Shop owners said this week that all but one shop, Faith’s Seafood Shack, would be open for the season.

Adriana Ignacio, another sister of Mrs. Welch and owner of On the Cliffs, said business at this time of year is somewhat erratic, with children still in school and things picking up on the weekends. She wasn’t necessarily expecting a spike in business during the move, and was also hoping to avoid a lull. So far she has not noticed any major changes resulting from the project. She reported that business was strong on Mother’s Day.

Work continues on Gay Head Light, despite fog. — Timothy Johnson

She agreed that town officials “have been keeping us all really well informed” about the traffic changes, adding, “As long as there is open communication, I don’t think there are going to be any problems.”

At least three of the Aquinnah shops, including Stony Creek Gifts and On the Cliffs, carry lighthouse mementos. But Ms. Welch and Ms. Ignacio did not plan to carry new items related specifically to the move. And Ms. Welch did not believe her current lighthouse mementos, which include mugs, shot glasses and T-shirts, would need to be redesigned for accuracy.

None of the shop owners interviewed believed the altered view of the lighthouse would affect business. (The lighthouse will be moved 129 feet to the east to save it from the eroding cliffs, but will still be visible from the Circle.) Even more than the move itself, they said, the main factor affecting business will be the weather.

“When you are a summer resort, it’s all about the weather,” Ms. Ignacio said.

Mr. Dario, whose tour business depends largely on day-trippers from around the region, concurred. “They will only come to Martha’s Vineyard if it’s nice out,” he said. “And that’s really the way it’s worked for so many years.”

Ms. Ignacio was confident that once the move is complete and the lighthouse reopens to the public, the net effect on business will be positive.

“This is a big deal,” she said. “It’s huge. So I think business will be very good through the fall.”