Evanston businesses bank on influx of NU students

Paul Thissen

Peer advisers aren’t the only ones facing hordes of freshmen during New Student Week — many of Evanston’s retailers also must prepare for the swarm.

“It’s busier the day the dorms open than it is Christmas Eve,” said Evanston RadioShack manager Jim Gernady. “We love students. They help the economy. Though Evanston residents don’t know it, we do.”

Some students and parents flocked to RadioShack, 716 Church St., to buy some of the electronic items they forgot to bring from home. Cables and routers were the most commonly purchased items, he said.

At RadioShack, business during the school year eventually returns to the same level as summer, but some businesses see a more permanent increase.

“Business has doubled,” said Panera Bread employee Jericho Johnson. “They’ve hired more people.”

Barnes & Noble, 1701 Sherman Ave., and Borders, 1700 Maple Ave., both note an increase in business with the students’ return, especially students looking for textbooks.

But because most students seem to purchase their textbooks at the Norris Bookstore, the number of books sold at Barnes & Noble doesn’t skyrocket, said employee Dave Coulter.

Coulter said the atmosphere of the bookstore also changes with the return of the students. Many college students study in the bookstore for upcoming exams or drink coffee and catch up with friends.

Neither bookstore has any need to increase its staff, employees said.

Some businesses also stock some different products especially for students.

Barnes & Noble sells extra blank notebooks, RadioShack stocks additional ethernet cables and Osco Drug, 1630 Sherman Ave., fills its entire “Seasonal Items” area with move-in supplies like surge protectors, sheets, blankets and fans.

Although other stores haven’t changed their stock, they still notice the student influx.

Even farther from Sherman Avenue, stores such as Cost Plus World Market, 1725 Maple Ave., gets a bit of a boost from the start of the school year.

But not all businesses in downtown Evanston get busier because of the start of school. Clothing stores do not see a New Student Week spike, for example.

Stacy Stowers, an employee at Asinamali, 1722 Sherman Ave., said her business levels don’t fluctuate as a result of Wildcats returning in September because more of the customers are middle-aged vacationers during the summer.

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