Revelry was good, bad for business

By Bryan Richardson

It’s probably safe to assume that the Aggieville bars did all right for themselves on Fake Patty’s Day. Thousands frequented Aggieville during the day to drink among other things.

But how did the rest of the Aggieville businesses fare Saturday? It depended on the businesses’ audience.

One thing that helped some businesses this year was street vending, which was allowed for the first time.

Acme Gift’s was one of the stores that took advantage, selling a variety of things from its booth, which stayed open until 6 p.m. Those items include beads, cotton candy, sunglasses and Polaroid pictures.

Jenny Willis, an Acme employee, said the store had around double the sales of typical Saturday. She liked the ability to sell in the street and also providing activities such as hula hooping and roller blading.

“I thought it worked really well,” she said. “It made it seem more like a festival.”

Thread’s manager James Parker said the custom t-shirt business had a good day with its street selling. Even though most people had green shirts coming to Aggieville, he said people bought shirts to commemorate the event.

“That was the big thing,” Parker said. “What a lot of people really liked was the dated shirts.”

He said he enjoyed the interaction with everyone out during the day. “Obviously, there’s a lot more people in town, so everyone gets more business,” Parker said.

However, this isn’t the case if the business doesn’t necessarily have a way to tap into the Fake Patty’s Day market.

“On Fake Patty’s Day, it killed our business,” said Jeff Koening, parts pilferer at Big Poppi Bicycle Co. He said business was down about 60 percent Saturday while operating under its normal hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The allowance of street vending placed Vista Drive-in’s cart in front of the bike shop. Koening said having that there helped bring down public drunkenness. He said the shop can give up one Saturday of business, which he expected to resume as normal this upcoming Saturday.

“Any Saturday when the weather is nice is a good day for a bicycle shop,” he said.

Despite a down Saturday, Big Poppi remained open to maintain some business unlike Stigge Vision Care, which closed for the day. “We haven’t had any damage to the building or any problems,” Tahra Arnold, an assistant at Stigge, said. “Maybe more litter than usual.”

Arnold said there are typically three regular exams and three progress checks during the normal Saturday hours of 8 a.m. to noon. That equates to around $480 without including people with eye emergencies or looking to purchase contacts and glasses.

Arnold said the doctor was a bit upset because of the potential double whammy with St. Patrick’s Day being this coming Saturday. She said the office won’t be closed but is warning patients about it.

Bluestem Bistro and Jimmy John’s, two food establishments in Aggieville, had very different Saturdays.

Bluestem manager Steve Keck said the bistro is typically at its busiest on Saturday mornings and needs an extra person working. “We didn’t need an extra person working this Saturday any means,” he said.

Keck said the bistro’s typical type of customers, families and older people, stayed away due to the hectic nature of Fake Patty’s Day. The restaurant, which normally operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., closed the building at 5 p.m.

Bluestem did keep its patio open until 6:30 p.m. with a keg available and hot dogs. Keck said it helped business somewhat. “We thought we’d tap into the Fake Patty’s Day market a little bit,” he said.

Jimmy John’s, on the other hand, is a business that receives a lot of people looking to sober up on a Saturday night. Fake Patty’s Day meant the whole day was busy.

“It’s so busy everybody that we employ has to work that day and people from other stores come to help,” said Bryan Burgess, shift leader at Jimmy John’s. Those other store employees came from Wichita and Lawrence. He said 50 people, including 10 to 15 from other stores, worked Saturday while a normal day would have 20 employees working.

Jimmy John’s, like the bars, paid closer attention to overcrowding issues after the concentrated effort by the Manhattan Fire Department to control it. Last year when the bars closed, sandwich wrappers were scattered on the floor and people filled the place.

This year, an employee kept the line outside waiting on people to leave. The restaurant was also clean and chairs were put away for the night. “We had to make sure to keep the right amount of people in here due to fire codes and things like that,” Burgess said.

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