True/False gives downtown businesses a bump

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | 8:20 p.m. CST; updated 7:45 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 7, 2013

COLUMBIA — The 10th True/False Film Fest brought thousands of people — and their wallets — to downtown Columbia.

And they spent money.

Many business owners said the weekend was outstanding for sales, and some even did a record-breaking amount of business.

Broadway Brewery at 816 E. Broadway had its busiest week in the three years it's been open, manager Krissy Farrar said. “We anticipated a busy week as we always do during True/False, but this just blew our minds,” she said. Even though Farrar attempted to over-order in preparation, the Brewery still ran out of a few brands of wine and one brand of beer.

Businesses located along Ninth Street, which was heavily trafficked by moviegoers going from one venue to another, had particularly strong sales. Waits for tables at some downtown restaurants were more than an hour and a half.

“If you look at the average weekend as 100 percent, we were at 175 percent," said Andrew Ducharme, general manager of Lakota on Ninth Street. "Not quite double, but pretty damn good.”

Panera Bread, also on Ninth Street, had so many customers that the registers went down and diners had to pay in cash only. “It wasn’t pretty, but we managed,” manager Autumn Huinker said. “We had about a 50 percent increase in sales. I love True/False.”

For Shotgun Pete’s BBQ Shack, which was forced to close for snow in the past few weeks, True/False was “like a shot in the arm when it was really needed," owner Philip Peters said. Saturday was the busiest day for the restaurant, with standing room only and no lull between lunch and dinner. The restaurant is across from The Blue Note, one of the festival's venues.

“We probably had four times the business we normally do,” said Catherine Wilcox, an employee at Main Squeeze on Ninth Street. “It was hella' busy.”

"The more organized the True/False festival gets, the more organized we get," Coffee Zone manager Issam Yamis said. Although the shop didn’t run out of anything and stayed open all day Sunday, some employees were on call for rushes. “I felt like it went more smoothly than ever before."

The fair trade shop, Mustard Seed Fair Trade, did more than double its sales from last year's True/False weekend, employee Jessica Penner said.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau is generating a report to hotels to collect information on how many rooms were sold for the weekend. Aggregating the information will take a few days, said Megan McConachie, the bureau's Web and communications manager.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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