Downtown Cape Girardeau businesses expect sales boost from Homecoming

Friday, October 29, 2010

The game. The parade. The 10,000 or so football fans.

Southeast Missouri State University's Homecoming celebration is expected to lead to brisk sales this weekend for many downtown businesses, especially those that cater to people in search of food, drinks and entertainment.

"I think it does help the downtown," said Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape, a downtown merchants group. "It would probably do more for restaurants and entertainment spots, but overall, it's a good weekend for everybody."

For their part, downtown business owners said Thursday that the fact that the Redhawks are playing well, coupled with a Halloween weekend and a Saturday parade all add up to the possibility of better-than-average business, with some saying sales may increase by as much as 30 percent.

"Saturday could be a very, very big day," said Hunter Clark, owner of Broussard's on Main Street. "With the team doing what it's doing and bringing in more people to town, we're hoping for maybe a 10 percent increase in business. Every little bit helps."

Shad Burner, director of alumni services at Southeast, said it's hard to know exactly how many people the event will bring into town. But he said he is certain that more than 10,000 fans will be at Houck Stadium for the game at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"I've heard from a lot of folks who say they're coming," he said. "Two buses are coming from St. Louis that each have at least 40 to 50 people on them."

Barry Robinson, the owner of Cup 'N' Cork, said any time there's more downtown foot traffic, sales will spike.

"It's going to happen," he said. "Once you get traffic here, you'll see more sales."

Just look to the city's west end, Robinson said, where traffic from Interstate 55 has helped the business community thrive, with the West Park Mall and the plethora of restaurants and retail shops. Robinson, who sells coffee beverages, food and wine, said he hopes for an increase in sales this weekend anywhere from 15 to 30 percent.

Michael Hess, who owns Breakaways Bar, said he also expects an uptick in sales.

"It's a big bonus for us," he said. "The football team is doing well this year and people are out supporting the team. People get excited about sports in this town. It'll help us, and it will be appreciated, welcomed, and it's absolutely needed right now."


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