COLUMBIA — Freedom isn’t free, but local businesses offered free goods to voters Tuesday.
Chance Mullins, the catering manager at the McAlister’s Deli on Grindstone Parkway and a location in Jefferson City, gave a free cookie to each customer that wore an "I voted" sticker.
“I’ve always been involved as much as I can to try and get the youth to vote,” Mullins said. "I’m 28 so I’m a little older. I’ve seen promos like this before and I thought it would be a good idea to get people voting."
Mike Atkinson, manager of the Candy Factory on Cherry and Seventh streets, said his store gave caramel apples to customers who voted.
“The best way for the democratic process to work is if everyone gets out and votes,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said the Candy Factory’s caramel-apple giveaway started as a promotion sent to the store’s email list, but expanded to anyone with an “I voted” sticker after customers heard about the deal through word of mouth.
Kelly Keller, manager of the Starbucks on Ninth Street, said her store was participating in the company’s nationwide promotion, which gives customers who voted a free bracelet with the word “indivisible.”
Keller said the morning rush consisted mostly of MU employees rather than students, but that she anticipated there would be more students voting later in the day.
All three business owners said turnout at their stores has been high. Keller said "probably about 200 to 250" customers had received free bracelets by lunchtime.
Mullins estimated approximately 500 customers combined received free cookies at his two McAlister’s locations.
“We couldn’t bake them quickly enough so we were giving away free cookie coupons,” Mullins said.
Atkinson wasn’t sure of the number of apples the Candy Factory gave away, but said he knew it was a large amount.
"I’m probably going to have to spend my day making more caramel apples," Atkinson said.
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