Downtown businesses prepare for thousands of visitors, traffic
COLUMBIA - For Harold’s Doughnuts owner Michael Urban, big customer turnout and big sales are Homecoming traditions he looks forward to.
“Homecoming weekend is one of the biggest weekends of the year for us. Especially Saturday morning, being on Ninth Street we’re right in front of the parade route. It’s great, it’s fun for our staff...fun for everyone everyone who comes into town.”
The Mizzou Alumni Association estimates as many as 30,000 guests to flock to Columbia’s Historic Downtown District for Saturday morning’s parade. Mizzou Athletics anticipates up to 55,000 fans to attend the Mizzou-Idaho game.
The doughnut shop has only been open three years, but Urban said despite being new to downtown, his store is ready to tackle the customer surplus with additional staffing and doubling production.
“We prepare in a way unlike any other weekend. It’s all hands on deck. We’ll produce almost 5,000 doughnuts if not a little more than that, just for Saturday morning.”
Urban says big weekends like these boost business, not just for his store, but for many small business owners in the downtown area.
“It’s in everybody’s interest as a business owner downtown to do everything you can to make things as pleasant as possible for your customers and serve them as best as you can, like having enough product available for them.”
Recently, downtown businesses have struggled with road closures like those on Sixth Street. Urban says he’s “fortunate” his business isn’t affected.
Restaurants like Coley’s Bistro are completely blocked by construction and have reported negatively impacted sales. However, this weekend's spike in customers may alleviate some of the strain for businesses.
“There’s so many things you have to worry about as a business owner and road closures aren’t one of them you would think you would have to deal with, but it jumps to the top of your list when something like that happens.”
Urban said the "lifeblood” of downtown businesses are “walk-in and retail traffic.”
“You certainly want to be in a position where you’re as accessible to people as possible, and when you’re not that could have a tremendous impact, a negative impact, on your bottom line.”
The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau told KOMU they anticipate even more traffic and delays while getting around downtown this weekend. Go COMO will also offer alternative and additional routes over the weekend.