Businesses impacted by record-breaking MU enrollment

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COLUMBIA - Mizzou's spring 2015 semester kicked off Tuesday morning with record-breaking enrollment numbers. 

After almost a month-long winter break, local residents are forced to re-adjust to living alongside the 32,588 students currently enrolled for the new semester at MU. 

"We really gauge on a mass exodus when the students leave," resident Trish Wallace said. "And then when they infiltrate back in we can also tell a huge difference. Today was the first time I have seen a horrendous amount of traffic that caused me to be late to work."

In addition to increased traffic, Wallace said she always expects longer lines at restaurants and shops near campus. After living in Columbia for more than 30 years, Wallace said she has learned to improvise in her daily living routines.

"There's a lot more chaos and congestion," she said. "I took different routes and streets because I know the back ways and I avoid turning left so I'm constantly re-routing myself."

Kirk Wacker owns Sub Shop on Eighth and Locust and said those long lines have helped keep him in business since 1975.

"When we opened we were on Walnut Street and we were there until 1993 and then we moved over here," he said. "It's been great. We're right on the edge of campus and we get a lot of traffic, not as much as Ninth Street, but we're kind of a destination restaurant because we've been here so long."

Wacker also said his work force is influenced by the number of students attending MU.

"We try to hire college students," he said. "You know when we're slow it's usually when the college students are on vacation and then it's kind of nice to say to our college employees that it's no big deal if they're not here."

While a larger student body means increased business for some, other customers have learned to plan ahead.

"I'm used to it," resident Derrick Cowan said. "I've learned to expect it. I take lunch at times that I know I will avoid the rush and have had to establish my own system."

More students in Columbia has resulted in more construction of student housing. Wacker said he's looking forward to the completion of a new apartment complex near his business. 

"Things definitely slow down here during breaks," he said. "But the last few years the foot traffic hasn't gotten quite as slow because of all the apartments and now with the new apartment and 300 kids living right next door a lot of them leave but aren't gone the whole time when they have an apartment like that."

MU officials report the total number of undergraduate students at 25,186 and professional and graduate students at 7,402.

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