Local businesses said they saw a decline in business this week, despite the influx of international visitors here for the UCI Road World Championships. Projections for the race estimated that more than 400,000 spectators would come to Richmond to watch the race and that they would bring $129 million in spending. However, for businesses near VCU’s Monroe Park campus, the 30,000 students who were encouraged to leave town were the most important figure during the bike race week.
Businesses such as Christians, Mama’s Kitchen, Piccola Italy, Shawarma Shack and 821 Café reported seeing low customer turnout during the week.
For some businesses, which see seasonal fluctuations of demand between semesters, the drop in students during the bike race comes at a time when these business rely heavily on student traffic to make up for periods of low demand in the summer.
CHRIS SHEEHY, EMPLOYEE
Business: 821 Café
It started off slow a bit last weekend, people might have been a little afraid to come out especially because of the road closures. But we’ve started picking up. Last weekend apparently was really slow.
WILLIAM GLAVIN, EMPLOYEE
Business: Piccola Italy
We have been pretty slow during the day, deliveries have been pretty messed up east near Broad. (The city) didn’t say specifically it was busy. But I think everyone had expectations that during the week, during the time trials there was going to be something. But it was a ghost town.
JOHN WATERS, OWNER
I think it’s unfortunately been low. I thought it was going to be better than normal, above average. It was a lot of hype about the race, about the people it was going to draw locally, internationally, and I think those numbers have fallen short.
YONG SHIN, OWNER
Business: Mama’s Kitchen
This race is miserable, my business is down 80 percent, maybe more than 80. I usually average between $600-$800 a day, I’ve had three days this week where I have had less than $100. So I’m kind of in the negative for the week actually … This has been the worst week in 11 years by far.
NATHALIE ETO, EMPLOYEE
Business: Shawarma Shack
I guess usually the customers are students, and since students weren’t around it’s just been a few curious people walking in, so it’s been pretty bad.