By Alexandria Hoff

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) — The Democratic National Convention was supposed to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That was before COVID-19 hit. Now, Wilmington Delaware is the epicenter for Democratic campaign activity and business is booming.

The barricades, the security — it all arrived pretty suddenly on the Wilmington waterfront and has become the closest thing to a physical location that this convention has.

“The waterfront is never this busy,” one person said.

This is not the city that was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

“I would have gone to Milwaukee but I was able to just drive here and commute from Millville,” said PR Specialist Mike Smith.

As the DNC pivoted to virtual, Wilmington’s role grew as media from around the country flocked to set up outside the Chase Center. That’s where Joe Biden will formally accept his party’s nomination on Thursday and Kamala Harris, his pick for vice president, will speak on Wednesday.

“I’ve been to every convention, as I said, since 1988 when Biden ran the first time,” Smith said.

For professionals like Smith, Wilmington quickly became the spot to network.

Restaurants like Timothy’s Pub are reaping the benefits of this unconventional convention.

“There has been a big uptick in business, especially during the lunch hours,” Patrick Hogan said.

It’s been an unexpected boost for establishments that weeks ago struggled to cope with COVID-19 closures.

“It’s definitely going to help out the local businesses,” one person said.

Sakeena Salaam is very interested in politics and decided to take advantage of the buzz around the waterfront to sell some of her items.

“Many times I have been up and down here, but nothing like this,” Salaam said.

As for the Chase Center itself, due to COVID-19, interior access is extremely restricted.

Alexandria Hoff