Winter cools local business

By Nina Gougis

Many business owners can look forward to the high sales this holiday season, but for Ken Straman, owner of Mango’s Frozen Custard, 890 Pappas Drive, the month-long student break is more than just a slow month.

Already faced with the typically low sales during the colder months, having students leave for break dramatically decreases sales because 90 percent of his customers are students, Straman said.

To help cope with the loss, Straman closes the store during the break and uses the month to clean the store and tune equipment. During that time, savings from the peak summer months and the money he saved helps him cope with the loss, he said.

“Sometimes it’s barely enough to get by, but I do the best I can,” he said.

Although the effects in other stores may not be as dramatic, many other businesses that depend on student customers also face losses over long breaks.

The Bottle Store, 1022 W. Lincoln Highway, usually experiences a slight decrease in sales when students leave, said manager Bob Collin. But those losses are usually alleviated with an increase in DeKalb residents visiting the store, he said.

“Our sales won’t be like when students are here because we are student oriented,” Collin said. “But more residents usually come out here when they know the students won’t be here.”

Some stores located further from campus, like L.I.B Fashions, 2510 Sycamore Road, are influenced by a wider variety of factors, said Erin Sheridan, assistant manager.

Although most customers are students, Sheridan said, any decrease in sales could be attributed to other factors, such as construction and a small number of surrounding stores, which can decrease the amount of traffic in the area.

The move from their previous Lincoln Highway address and change in their name from Let It Be to L.I.B Fashions one year ago could also negatively affect sales, she said.

“A lot of people are still unaware of the move and what we have to offer,” Sheridan said.

For Straman, the low sales have encouraged him to come up with more innovative ideas. This year, he added new items, including wraps and salads, to help increase winter sales.

“I appreciate [student] business and I want to do everything I can to [meet] their needs,” Straman said.