Businesses in downtown Columbia prepare for SEC crowds

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | 10:19 p.m. CDT; updated 1:13 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 31, 2012
Businesses around Columbia are preparing for the influx of visitors that the Missouri football games will draw in. Some businesses in downtown Columbia are extending business hours or changing menus to attract more people.

COLUMBIA — Sandra Ferguson and her staff swept the floor at Allen's Flowers and placed floral arrangements around the shop in preparation for the upcoming football game this Saturday.

Missouri's non-conference game against Southeastern Louisiana kicks off the Tigers' first football season in the SEC.

Ferguson, who owns the flower shop in downtown Columbia, packed her right front window with a sea of black and gold as she moved her MU merchandise for a display in anticipation of the out-of-town guests coming for Saturday's game.

"We're trying to get all the MU ornaments and gift items in the window, so we can attract the new people in town," Ferguson said.

Allen's Flowers is one of several downtown shops hoping to attract business from the influx of visitors who will be exploring Columbia before football games this fall.

Makes Scents, located on Ninth Street, is staying open an extra hour on Friday nights before home football games this season.

"With the first few games starting at 6 p.m. or 6:45 p.m. certainly allows people to be downtown a little bit more and shop the district, eat in the district and hang out in the district before they go to the game," Christina Kelley, Makes Scents owner, said. "I'm excited, I think it is going to be a great football year."

However, some businesses aren't making any extra effort to deal with what some believe will be larger crowds.

Shakespeare's Pizza has been has been doing this for more than three decades, said Jonathan Medley, the general manager of Shakespeare's Pizza's downtown location.

"We know how to handle a crowd," Medley said.

Unlike Shakespeare's, Kaldi's Coffee House made several significant changes including new menu items, outdoor seating and a promotional menu for tailgating purposes when it heard about Missouri joining the Southeastern Conference family.

"We are bringing out our top baristas," said Johanna Cox, general manager of Kaldi's.

In addition to increasing its staff, Kaldi's hopes to attract more customers with two new drinks: The Game Day Blend and a Tiger themed latte that will be featured on game day weekends.

"You bring more people into Columbia, and they are going to spend more money," she said.

Although MU Police Department officials said it wouldn't be making any game day changes this fall, the Columbia Police Department is making preparations.

"We're adding extra officers downtown," said Latisha Stroer, Columbia Police Department spokeswoman. "Their fans travel great distances."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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Frank Bier August 30, 2012 | 11:22 a.m.

My understanding is SEC fans come self-contained, they have all the food, drink and supplies they need and they rarely buy stuff in the town they are in other than gas to leave .

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