Downtown stores see business rushing ahead of home opener
Storefronts on College Street in downtown Auburn say they expect this football season to bring back strong sales with full attendance at Jordan-Hare Stadium, more students on campus and the reappearance of tailgaters. Some stores said they are already seeing the influx of visitors this weekend for tonight’s opening home game against Akron as early as Thursday.
“We started to see [customers] Thusday; I think the anticipation of that long holiday weekend and the first game some people have been to in two years is part of it, ”said Trey Johnston, retired CEO of J&M Bookstore who still runs the store on time. partiel. “I think people were excited.”
Johnston said last year’s football season saw sales drop 42% due to fewer people in Auburn for games with COVID-19 restrictions in place and said the store had often more solid business on Saturdays off weeks or during away games. He expects sales patterns to largely return to normal for downtown merchants, but noted his store was experiencing delays in receiving inventory due to manufacturing delays.
“I’m having supply chain issues getting the product into the house,” Johnston said. “With stuff I ordered in January [and] In anticipation of February, reps call and say “You have to save it six weeks.”
He said the store might not have its full inventory ordered until October, but he doesn’t expect that to impact sales of popular items. Johnston said white clothing was the most popular item this weekend and was already selling well on Friday as tonight’s game is a “white” game.
Cliff Hare, co-owner of Auburn Art, said his store was also seeing the influx of customers from Friday morning and had made 43 sales around 3 p.m.
“I would at least quadruple that number for people in-store right now in terms of traffic, because usually everyone who walks in has at least two people, sometimes four,” Hare said Friday afternoon. “I might have had 200 people so far. [Saturday] it will probably be 200 people an hour. “
Hare said he was not sure the rebound in the business wave in the fall this year is a guarantee with uncertainty over whether Auburn University’s COVID-19 guidelines will be changed with the delta variant of the coronavirus impacting the southeast.
“I think there were times when everyone in town that I spoke with… [was] wondering with the delta variant if they end up saying, “Actually, we’ve got to have that capability,” he said. “Everyone assumed, since they had already announced it, that it would be really difficult to go back [on policies].
Auburn Art was the first company in town to sign a name, image, or likeness contract with Tigers QB Bo Nix, with an autographed soccer ball currently available for purchase in the store. Hare said NIL products are an exciting new business venture for the store that he looks forward to bringing to customers starting this season.
“We are right now playing with other players and talking to them to maybe see if we can get some other signings from a few other football and basketball players as well,” he said. he declares.
The J&M Bookstore and Auburn Art will not be open on Labor Day, their owners said, but the downtown Mellow Mushroom location hopes to host weekend breaks for pizzas and drinks on Monday before leave the city.
“We’re just going to stay open until everyone is fed,” said Adam Nemeroff, general manager of Mellow Mushroom in Auburn.
Nemeroff said the restaurant plans to stay open a little longer tonight until 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. given the higher volume of customers in town, and later this season he plans to see the highest number of customers since the start of the pandemic with bigger games like the Iron Bowl.
“We didn’t really get that last year, so we’re ready for it this year,” he said. “We get a few small games and a few away games leading up to these [big games] so we should be well trained and ready to go by then. “
A sign on Mellow Mushroom’s front window says the restaurant is in need of kitchen staff, but Nemeroff said the restaurant is ready for anyone visiting this weekend.
“We hire people all over the place, [but] we’re about as ready as we can get, “he said.” We’ve had to make some adjustments here and there as we go, which is the norm now. “