Businesses such as Uptown Dog face drop-off in business as students depart

Uptown Athens Businesses Prepare for Summer Slump

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As students prepare to return to their homes, Athens business owners are preparing to attract other customers.

Where to find them though?  The next influx of students comes with Bobcat Student Orientations.

Uptown Dog, on West Union Street, offers a free t-shirt for people who come in during orientation and sign up for the store’s text message service.

“We’ve done this for about three years and it’s definitely proved to help our business,” owner Mary Cheadle said. “That way we can get their cell phone number and give them text deals for the next four years – and sometimes beyond.”

Student orientations begin the last week of May and continue through June.

Cheadle bought Uptown Dog from her brother in 1998. Nearly twenty years later, she says it’s still difficult to predict how the summer will go.

“Every time I think we’re gonna have a welcome, hot summer, something in life always happens,” she said.

Franco’ Pizza opened in March, but owners feel prepared for their first summer in Athens

You would guess that the summer would be toughest for new businesses. But Mike Young, co-owner of Franco’s Pizza Place, which opened in March, is confident heading into his first summer in Athens.

“It doesn’t concern us,” Young said. “We prepared for it a year ago.”

Franco’s Pizza Place is located near many book stores, which should help during the summer when incoming freshmen come to campus.

Franco’s location near College Green is expected to help the traffic flow. Young said his business has been popular among prospective students visiting campus.

“We’ve had a lot of kids come in and you can tell they’re not in college yet,” he said. “They’re with their parents and they’re like ‘we like your pizza, man.’”

Young plans to keep the same hours throughout the summer, but many businesses cut back, or close altogether.

Next door to Franco’s Pizza Place, Wendy’s closes for the entire summer. Once orientations end, Uptown Dog will typically cut back to a three-day week. She’ll spend the extra time focusing on opening another business across the street, where Uptown Dog used to be before the Union Street fire.

“We’re gonna be very busy this summer,” Cheadle said. “Money might not be coming in, but it’s what you do to stay alive until they come back in the fall.”