Summer slump hurts local businesses

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Trucker, a local clothing store downtown, relies on students for 75 percent of their revenue. Photo credit: Madison Holmes

Some downtown Chico businesses suffer when the students return home for the summer.

Although most downtown businesses have a very broad clientele, the bulk of revenue for downtown comes from Chico State students, said Budd Schwab, the owner of Campus Bicycles on Main Street.

“You’ve got 12,000 to 13,000 people who are not here, and that’s a good percentage of the population,” he said.

Trucker, a clothing store on Broadway Street, gets up to 75 percent of its revenue from students, said employee Thomas Barbera.

“It’s just like any other downtown business,” Barbera said. “When students aren’t here, it’s obviously slower. If you just walk the streets in Chico, it’s slower.”

Many students buy their textbooks from Lyon Books, said Ian McMahon, an employee.

“We go through a lot of the instructors who will ask us to order a huge amount of books at a time,” he said.

Businesses used to close in the summer because downtown relied so much on student profit, Schwab said.

The summer guarantees a lower income for businesses, so stores must come up with other means to make a profit during the summer.

“We have not as many people work as many hours during the summer and we do little projects in the store that need to be done to keep busy,” Barbera said.

Chico’s children and young adults also help businesses manage, he said.

Mr. Kopy relies solely on students during the school year because they provide inexpensive course packets, a cheaper alternative to textbooks, said Carlos Cuellar, the manager of Mr. Kopy.

“During the summer, we don’t rely on students for revenue at all,” Cuellar said. “It’s the downtown business area that keeps us above water a lot of the time.”

Business owners downtown are used to the summer lull, McMahon said.

“Summer is our slow season, so we just have to bite the bullet and face the fact that we won’t make a lot of money during the summer,” he said.

Businesses are kind of ruled by Chico State in that sense, Cuellar said.

“When they’re out of session, it really is like a ghost town out here,” he said.

Madison Holmes can be reached at [email protected] or @madisonholmes95 on Twitter.