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Business booms for local stores

Katie Peralta | Friday, August 21, 2009

As Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students from all parts of the country make their way back to campus this week, area retailers are enjoying the usual business boom that accompanies students’ arrival despite economic concerns.

Retailers like Mishawaka’s Super Target, which devotes an entire section of its store to back-to-school items, has not seen a noticeable drop in spending.

“We kind of had a slow start [this year,] but there has been no significant decrease in spending from years past,” Kim Godfrey, an executive team leader at Super Target, said. She said the store is extremely busy but only for a few weeks, mainly during the month of August.

“The store, however, has seen a spike on back-to-school items this month,” Godfrey said. She said that the store prepares for weeks before student arrivals, stocking up on popular dorm items.

“There is a lot of prep work done on our part. We need to keep the store in full form,” she said.

Godfrey added the economic impact of back-to-school shopping is significant, second only to that of the fourth quarter, the period right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

Store manager of Mishawaka’s Bed Bath and Beyond, Johnny Skeen, said sales increase around 40 to 60 percent during the month of August, the busiest time for his store.

Skeen said people are spending less, but not significantly. Students still are stocking up on dorm items like sheets, mattress pads and pillows like any other year.

Other area stores such as the Futon Factory in Mishawaka enjoy similar profits during the month and offer student specials as well as extended store hours, as advertised on the store’s Web site.

“Business is picking up as the students move in,” Mary Burrer, owner of the Futon Factory, said. “We have a great business from the ND students and always look forward to this time of year.”

While spending on school and dorm items is costly to any student, incoming parents and students agree cutting back on essential items for back-to-school is difficult, especially freshman year.

“You can’t not buy things like sheets,” freshman Meghan Smith said. “I am going to have a lot of the stuff I buy for all four years,” she said.

Smith said she did, however, compare prices carefully for larger items like bedding before making her purchases from stores like the Company Store, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.

“I probably would have done that any year though,” Smith added.

Other students agree that careful spending is important for anyone.

Freshman Morgan Iddings, who had to buy dorm essentials like a futon, has been bargain shopping at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

“I refuse to pay full price,” Iddings said. “You can get the same thing [at some stores] but cheaper.”

Smith and Iddings, like many other students, said they will also be taking advantage of the student government-sponsored Fall Mall, which is held in the Stepan Center and offers Notre Dame student a variety of dorm supplies from local retailers.