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Fall semester brings influx of revenue to local businesses

Sept. 3, 2003

By Amanda Goffinet, reporter

As Baylor students come back to town for the fall semester, they bring money into the economy, according to Waco businesses.

Take Welcome Week, for example, which began this year with Wal-Mart Madness, a late-night party in the aisles of Wal-Mart.

Freshmen and transfers were bused with Welcome Week staff to Wal-Mart in Bellmead for games, food and shopping. Prizes included $5 Wal-Mart gift certificates to encourage spending.

Rebecca Sayres, local arrangements co-chairwoman and a Shreveport, La., junior, said that Wal-Mart was wary at first, but in the end the steering committee won the store over with its plan.

About 2,000 college students attended Wal-Mart Madness.

'It was like Christmas sales,' Sayres said. 'I saw [students] with microwaves and TVs.'

Sayres said Wal-Mart held the event for free, and the store is open to holding the event again.

Other businesses were looking forward to having Baylor students back in town as well.

'All the businesses I dealt with this summer were so excited for everyone to come back,' Sayres said.

According to Ernie Koon, store director of the H-E-B on Speight Avenue, the fall semester brings about a 25 percent increase in sales.

Smaller businesses also have reported profit increases.

Terry and Jo's Food for Thought, a small cafe on Speight Avenue, decreased its summer hours, waiting for things to pick up again in the fall.

Terry Otto, who owns the cafe with his wife, estimated that college students make up 75 to 80 percent of his clientele.

'Baylor has been great to me,' Otto said. 'From Aug. 1 to Sept. 1 my business triples.'