Monday, June 30, 2003

Spokane

Hoopfest nets mixed results for businesses
Some near sales records; others lag behind last year
Related stories

Tom Sowa
Staff writer

Downtown Spokane merchants pretty much echoed the story lines of most Hoopfest basketball teams at the end of the weekend. Some did well; others said they'll do better next year.

Businesses on one side of the block reported nearly record sales. Others down the street said this year's grosses were well below normal.

The luck seemed to belong to businesses with easy access and plenty of sitting room.

Tim Pigatto, owner and manager of the downtown Taco Del Mar on Main Avenue, s
aid customers kept a crew of seven busy both days of Hoopfest. "We set a one-day sales record last year. We probably matched that this year," he said.

Fred Horseman, owner of Next Door Espresso on Riverside Avenue near Lincoln Street, said he's never worked a harder two days.

"We did in two days what we'd probably have done in a week and a half normally," he said.

Cold drinks, naturally, were the big sellers on the hot weekend.

But at the other end of downtown, both Kinko's and Auntie's Bookstore reported business below normal.

Limited access for drivers was the key reason for Kinko's slump, said a store spokesman.

At Auntie's, sales were generally down this year. "It's slower than last year," said Elissa Gordon, one of the store's managers. "Most people coming in weren't going out having bought anything," she said.

Thomas Hammer Coffee downtown planned ahead, adding staffers for the weekend and placing a well-stocked cart outdoors near basketball courts on Main.

"We easily sold 300 coffees each day," said coffee maker Josh Hester. "Mostly cold specials, but a little of everything."

Thomas Hammer manager Lauren Cordell said the company stocked up on lemonade, iced drinks and other chilled beverages.

"We had one person just be a runner, going back and forth from the (indoor) store to the cart. That really helped," she said.

Cyrus O'Leary's manager Chris McCandless said the downtown restaurant probably had a best-ever weekend total at this year's Hoopfest.

Business clearly was driven by walk-ins and game-watchers, he said.

"We opened a little earlier on Saturday. We just made sure we had enough people on hand to handle the traffic," he said.

But one door down, the staff at Rocky Rococo found business well below the totals of last year's Hoopfest.

Judging by the smaller numbers of food coupons used, the weekend traffic primarily consisted of out-of-towners, said the restaurant's assistant manager, Tye Newbill.

The reason for the slower business, Newbill said, was the extra number of food vendors this year in nearby Riverfront Park.

"I don't really blame them," he said. "If I wasn't in here, I'd have gone over to the park, too."

•Tom Sowa can be reached at (509) 459-5492 or toms@spokesman.com.


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