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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Homecoming can mean big business for local retailers

As Gainesville prepares for an influx of visitors on Homecoming weekend, so do local businesses.

Brent Christensen, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce president, said the increase of people in the area causes a ripple effect in the local economy.

Gators home football games have a large impact on the community, Christensen said.

Home games affect a variety of businesses, including hotels, restaurants and retail outlets, he said.

Lynne Vaughan, director of the UF Bookstore, said Homecoming is a great time to draw in traffic to the bookstore.

It took less than two weeks for the store to sell out of Homecoming T-shirts, and it is ordering more, Vaughan said.

The store may also do pre-sales for a new book called "University of Florida Football Vault," a scrapbook of Florida football over the years.

The bookstore should have a strong business weekend thanks to the parade and football game, she said.

"I think it's going to be a very fun November," Vaughan said.

Sam Rappa, manager for Larry's Giant Subs on West University Avenue, said extra people work during Homecoming in order for the store to be ready.

However, not everyone sees a significant change during the Homecoming weekend.

Karl Kaufmann, general manager of the Holiday Inn University Center on West University Avenue, said Homecoming is not very different from other home football weekends.

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"We sell out a year in advance," Kaufmann said.

People are allowed to book 50 weeks in advance.

Four game weekends are already sold out for next season, he said.

The Holiday Inn offers a lot of activities around the hotel during Homecoming.

"We'll let families and kids up on the pool deck so they can see the parade," Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann said he appreciates the energy of the Gators fans during home game weekends.

"Everyone who's coming here is coming here for the same reason," he said.

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