Indiana Daily Student

Lotus Fest boosts bar business

Lotus World Music and Arts Festival brings extra business to local bars and restaurants but doesn’t have the same effect on retail, according to some downtown Bloomington businesses.

Jess Olry, manager at Nick’s English Hut, said she definitely sees more people come in to Nick’s during Lotus Festival weekend than other weekends.

“In between the shows, especially,” she said. “When there’s a break in the show we’ll get a lot of extra business. People will pop in for a snack or a drink.”

She said it helps that Nick’s is downtown near the concert stages.

“We’re one of the Bloomington staples and we offer a lot of local beer and food,” she said. “It’s just fun to hop around downtown, and (Lotus Festival) is a draw.”

Matt Traughber manages Vintage Phoenix Comic Books on Sixth Street.

Since part of Sixth Street has been blocked off the past few Lotus Festivals to make room for a stage, he said, the store usually sees a lot less traffic than usual that weekend. Last year was the exception.

“We had some regulars who braved the mob and crowd to get here,” Traughber said.

Some Lotus Festival attendees visited Vintage Phoenix as well, but Traughber said he thinks bars and restaurants tend to see more business than retail stores do during Lotus Festival.

“They simply were here for something else,” he said. “If that’s not what they’re here for, you can’t expect them to be shopping.”

Vance Music Center, also on Sixth Street, is blocked from street view by the Lotus Festival stage. Will Rosson, who works at the store, said traffic goes way down during Lotus Festival weekend.

Owner Phil Gause said regulars still visit during that weekend, but the street closure makes the store harder to access.

“They come here because they know we’re here,” Gause said.

And because Vance Music closes well before concerts on Sixth Street start, Lotus Festival crowds don’t usually make it to the store.

“I have nothing against Lotus Fest, it’s just that it ... ” Gause trailed off and pushed his hands close together, demonstrating how little business Vance Music gets during Lotus Festival weekend. “It almost closes us down.”

Fair trade store Global Gifts, on the other hand, does get a lot of extra foot traffic during Lotus Festival, said store manager Dave Debikey

The Walnut Street store’s hours are extended to 10 p.m. Thursday during the music festival.

“People down for Lotus are mostly down for food and beverages, not so much in a shopping mood,” Debikey said. “We see it as good exposure, and maybe during the day they come back.”

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