Festival week brings mixed reviews for business
The Corn Palace Festival isn't all fun and games for Main Street businesses. The five-day festival shuts down Main Street from First Avenue to Seventh Avenue to add space for carnival rides, games and food vendors. But that leaves regular custome...
The Corn Palace Festival isn't all fun and games for Main Street businesses.
The five-day festival shuts down Main Street from First Avenue to Seventh Avenue to add space for carnival rides, games and food vendors. But that leaves regular customers to local businesses without access to nearby parking.
Ed Anderson, owner of Ed's Pet World, said there are pros and cons of the Corn Palace Festival in terms of the impact on his 41-year-old business.
"Overall, what we do is we increase our traffic by quite a bit, but the sales are down," Anderson said. "Our regular customers really aren't going to carry a bag of dog food or want to bring their dog in for grooming to carry it two blocks or three blocks."
The only customer entrance to Ed's Pet World is through the storefront on Main Street, forcing customers to search for parking on nearby streets. And with the popular festival in town, finding a parking spot in close proximity to Ed's Pet World can be a challenge.
But Anderson doesn't change his hours during the five-day event. He simply takes extra precautions.
Rather than allowing the pets he sells to be accessible to walk-in customers, he keeps the puppies out of the playpen at high traffic times throughout the week. Anderson said the tapping on the windows can be stressful for the pets.
While the Corn Palace Festival has some downside for a business like Anderson's, he said there are also advantages to an event that increases walk-in traffic exponentially.
"We could have close to 1,500 people through the store on Saturday, pretty much the door doesn't stop and people are coming in and looking," Anderson said. "And that's great, because we want to think, too, that maybe they'll want to come back at some point."
Anderson's hope is that customers who haven't visited the store in awhile, or ever, will return soon after the Corn Palace Festival to make a purchase. On some occasions, customers will see a puppy they would like to purchase during the festival, and simply return the following week to purchase the pet when finding parking and zigzagging through festival attendees are no longer concerns.
Although the festival provides a small challenge for Anderson, he realizes the benefits to the community. Anderson said the festival is a good opportunity for local restaurants and bars to bring in more customers and boost revenue.
Mitchell Mayor Jerry Toomey agreed with Anderson, saying some storeowners see the festival as a positive and others don't. And, Toomey said, it would be hard to move away from the longstanding tradition of Corn Palace week.
"It depends on what business you talk to," Toomey said. "Some businesses say it doesn't help their business, it hurts, others say they think it helps."
And after 41 years in business, Anderson said he's well-equipped to make it through the Corn Palace Festival.
"I'm probably one of the oldest businesses on Main Street here with 41 years, and it's something that we just accept just like anything else," Anderson said.