Saturday’s game against Stanford will bring thousands of alumni back to campus, but for local businesses, Homecoming Weekend’s influx of fans brings more than just Trojan spirit.
With the Alumni Association estimating that about 100,000 visitors will flock to campus — on Saturday, outlets on and around campus like the USC Pertusati Bookstore and the Radisson — expect to see an uptick in business over the weekend.
“With all the Trojan
faithful coming back, there’s always a huge surge of people,” said Daniel Archer, director of the USC Pertusati Bookstore. “There are normally a lot of people [on game day], but this is really extravagant.”
The bookstore takes several measures to ensure it can keep up with the throngs of people who flood the store.
“There’s a large amount of temporary labor to support the large crowds,” Archer said. “The stock area and sizing need to be correct, and the concessions booth near Tommy Trojan gets expanded to sell more products.”
The bookstore’s normal operating hours on weekends are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but during Homecoming it opens an hour earlier and closes an hour later to give customers as much time as possible to pick up merchandise.
During peak hours on Homecoming before the game, the store usually sells about $1,000 of merchandise per minute — Archer said he once saw sales up to $1,400 a minute — and he expects this weekend’s sales to be in the same range.
Still, the early timing — Saturday’s game is set to kick off at 12:30 p.m. — is going to affect the bookstore’s revenues.
“If we had, say, a five o’clock game, we’d definitely have more sales,” Archer said. “After the game is over, business slows down to a trickle.”
Erin Grathwohl, a freshman majoring in civil engineering (building science), has been putting money aside specifically for the purpose of purchasing bookstore merchandise over this weekend.
“I’m really excited about my first Homecoming,” Grathwohl said. “So I’m definitely planning on doing some shopping at the bookstore this weekend.”
On-campus dining, however, does not see as much of a jump in business as the bookstore, especially since most people prefer to tailgate on game days.
“Most groups and organizations bring their own food,” said Kristian Klinger, director of USC Hospitality. “There’s a small lift in business, but it’s nothing too dramatic.”
Klinger expects the real jump in profits comes with off-campus dining, since The Lab, McKay’s and Rosso Oro’s all usually see noticeable increases in business during game days.
This is the first year the three off-campus restaurants will be open during Homecoming Weekend, and Klinger said he expects them to serve as a hub for people to watch the game if they aren’t going to the Coliseum.
Michael Ramires, an undeclared freshman, said his parents are coming to watch the game and plan on eating somewhere off campus afterward.
“We’ll probably end up eating at either McKay’s or Rosso’s,” Ramires said. “We just want a convenient place to go eat after the game.”
Next door to the restaurants, the Radisson hotel is also set to benefit from the influx of alumni over the weekend.
Ashley Reid, the sales manager at the Radisson, said although business isn’t as good during Homecoming as it is during graduation or Parents’ Weekend, the hotel stills see a remarkable turnout.
“With the game going on, it always gets really busy,” Reid said. “The restaurants are always packed, and the hotel usually gets within 90 percent full to capacity.”
Reid said last-minute reservations called in during over the weekend can often make business even more hectic than usual.
“It’s usually people coming back from the game who don’t want to drive back home,” Reid said. “But there are also lots of
last-minute reservations for the different departments on campus, for the coaches and such.”
Reid said the game also attracts a large amount of people, which requires preparation to handle the visitors.
“You need to make sure you have enough staff,” she said. “There are lots of people, and the demand is high, so you have to be sure you can meet it.”
Archer echoed Reed’s statement, saying Homecoming Week was a prime opportunity for the bookstore, and it will be dedicating its efforts to taking advantage of it.
“We’ve been doing this for quite some time,” he said. “We’ve got a veteran staff, and this is our game time. We need all hands on deck.”