Following spring graduation things slow down around town significantly. There are less events going on and less people in the Classic City. That is until this weekend with AthFest, the highly-anticipated annual music and arts festival, here to help give downtown businesses a boost during its summer slump.
One person gearing up for the potential rush of business is Spencer Denton, manager of Trappeze Pub and Highwire Lounge.
Denton has been preparing his employees the past couple of weeks for what is sure to be a very busy weekend with hundreds of festival goers coming through.
“We expect a big influx of people,” Denton told The Red & Black. “The main stage is right here on Washington Street so we’re gearing up, letting our employees know to arrive early to find parking and to get coffee or a Red Bull or whatever they need to come prepared.”
Unlike other weekends over the summer months, AthFest weekend brings in about 60,000 local residents and visitors to party within a couple blocks of downtown Athens. The foot traffic is much like what one would see during a University of Georgia home-game football weekend.
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For Wuxtry Records, the weekend is not just great for sales.
“People are here for a concert experience,” Nathan Mitchell, manager at Wuxtry Records, said. “The record shopping trip is just something that happens, it’s about the music.”
During AthFest customers tend to purchase music from bands they used to listen to when they were in school.
“AthFest is a time when we sell tried and true artists, people that are well known and established,” Mitchell said. “People tend to remember bands they knew when they were in college and they come back and look for them.”
Local bands that perform at AthFest also see more sales at the music store over the festival weekend.
Over on Prince Avenue, Hendershot’s Coffee’s owner Seth Hendershot is gearing up for their eighth year of AthFest.
“We participate [in AthFest] every year since we’ve opened,” Hendershot said. “It’s always great. AthFest brings a lot of people into town in a time when there wouldn’t be. It’s a huge benefit to the town.”
Hendershot said the slow months of summer are like a “natural exodus and then re-entrance” of customers, with AthFest solely responsible for the business boost.
“June is hit or miss. We’ll have some really good nights, we’ll have some slow ones,” Hendershot said. “July is abysmal, it’s just dead.”
Like the coffee shop, several restaurants and bars should have plenty of customers this weekend, since they would also act as concert venues.
“Every bar becomes a venue during AthFest,” Denton said.
Even retail businesses are expecting heavier sales.
American Threads, a local boutique, hopes customers come in from the heat to try on many clothing options.
“I think people are more likely to buy clothing at this time because so many of the boutiques are right in the middle of all the action from the festival,” said Mona Haddad, a marketing employee for American Threads.
No matter whether there are special sales or not, downtown businesses will see a major influx of customers from the AthFest attendees.
“They’re here for music, and we’re part of the whole spectacle,” Mitchell said.