It is no secret that students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point generate substantial revenue for area businesses and their absence during winter break is most certainly felt.
Establishments ranging from restaurants to fitness clubs saw significant changes during this past month.
“We’ve definitely been slower and there has also been less community business because of the cold weather,” said Connor Schoelzel, a barista at Zest Bakery and Coffee House near campus. However, this slight lull has freed time for other aspects of the establishment. “Our business has stayed pretty steady with catering,” said business owner Jake Marchant.
“With students coming back, we’ve had a nice increase from a slow pace to a faster pace, especially during lunchtime. Sometimes it’s even hard to find a seat,” Marchant said. Although there are regulars from the community, students form a great percentage of their customers without a question.
Other establishments felt the effects the students return almost immediately. “Business picked up pretty much as soon as kids were able to move back into the dorms,” said the general manager of Toppers Pizza, Brad Ames. He also noticed that there was an unexpected increase in the bar rush Sunday night due to the fact that there were no classes held on Monday.
The cold, snowy, weather worked in favor of Toppers. The usual lull during break was slightly made up for by more businesses calling in for lunch and more families calling in for dinner due to the snow and extremely low temperatures. The business during the late evening and early morning hours, however, was greatly missed during the month of January.
“We love delivering, so keep ordering,” Ames said.
While Zest and Toppers were fortunate enough to find alternate means of business during winter break, Revive Wellness Club, located downtown, really took a hit.
“I’m so glad you guys are back. I wish you never had a break!” exclaimed Sumathy Knaapen, a supervisor at the club.
“Other businesses keep on going throughout the year, but we basically have to rebuild ours once January hits. Our momentum was lost. Community members only make up about 30 percent of our customers,” Knaapen said.
Employees at Revive became bored during UWSP’s break. They went from being busy nearly all day long, to dead slow. They used the time to get extra cleaning done and to work on their personal goals for advancements in the company.
Now that students are back, business is booming once more and the sting of the cold apparently doesn’t phase college students. “The cold has affected community members, but if college students want a smoothie they find a way to get here,” Knaapen said.
Students are very aware of the impact they have on these local businesses and many others.
“I think that the local businesses were negatively affected by students not being on campus during break. As much as the cliché goes that we are “broke college students,” most still have the money to splurge for a pizza once in a while if split between friends or stop for coffee now and then,” said UWSP sophomore Breanna Overesch.
“However, because the winter and summer breaks have been in effect for many years, I’m sure local establishments have most likely built this factor into their estimated sales,” Overesch said.
With classes back in full swing, area businesses will be flourishing once again as students get their coffee fix at Zest, satisfy late- night cravings at Toppers, work on their healthy New Years resolutions at Revive, and frequent many other area establishments. Local businesses likely won’t have to worry about a lull until summer break rolls around again.