They're back....University students return

We round up what local businesses are doing to attract the student dollar and handle the onslaught of frosh stocking up with supplies.

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We’re all about to get hit. No, not with a hurricane, necessarily---even though we have seen a couple of tropical storms already in August. We’re talking about the storm of the student body, Hurricane Academe.

Most businesses in town will be boosted by the sudden increase in the local population, either directly or indirectly. Some have already started to see the influx. The staff at the NSCAD Student Art Store (1872 Hollis, 494-8176) are already so busy they declined to give Shoptalk any details on how they manage through this period. Step one: avoid pesky reporters!---we presume.

“Most of our customer base is students,” says Mindy Wong, manager at the Montreal-headquartered DeSerres: The Creative Marketplace (1546 Barrington, 425-5566). “This is nothing new to us. We welcome them with open arms.” Back to school is the store’s busiest time of year next to Christmas, though Wong has noticed a change in the kind of students. “ In years past they were from NSCAD, Dal Architecture, maybe a few from NSCC. Now we’re seeing everyone. Maybe they’re all getting more DIY and creative.”

Students arriving in town need furniture and appliances for the first time they live on their own, and many turn to the deals available in previously owned items at Wyse Buys Trading Inc. (195 Wyse Road, Dartmouth, 464-0010). “It impacts about 10 days,” says owner Michael Joudrey, who has noticed the rush is actually a little late this year, solely due to Labour Day coming later in September than usual. “They’re looking for good furniture. We have lots of used product. We have a warehouse with a substantial inventory.”

You are ground zero for student business if you own a cafe. “Yesterday was very busy,” said Sook Kim, owner of The Wired Monk (5147 Morris Street, 422-2219) late last week. “Mostly students and their parents.”

Carlito’s Café (6220 Quinpool, 444-7555) is planning a series of promotions and offering coupons for free coffee to attract the “different crowd” that starts to drop by in September, though the overall success of the business has been largely due to word of mouth, says owner Carlos Wong. “It’s a small cafe.” People tell their friends and come in “for the environment and the food.”

Just Us! (5896 Spring Garden, 423-0856) started the process to prepare for the students’ arrival earlier this summer when the Tim Horton’s down the block closed. “We saw an increase in [purchases of] regular brewed coffee,” says manager Ned Zimmerman. “We put in a third coffee-maker” that will help when the student business spikes. In fact, Zimmerman says business has already “jumped up quite a bit.” He suspects the heat wave in August was a deterrent to people looking for hot java, but now “the weather has that fall feeling to it.”

Over at the Coburg Coffee House (6085 Coburg, 429-2326), kitchen manager Nicole Campbell reports that “it’s slamming busy all day.” Though the cafe is well-situated to serve the Dalhousie and King’s student population, they see customers year round, though they will likely increase staff in the coming weeks. “We make sure to have enough people on, so it doesn’t hurt the people that work here,” says Campbell. “People want to be social and work in a really good atmosphere. A lot of students work here.” She adds that a happy staff is one of the keys to quality customer service. “We try to serve each customer efficiently and maintain the quality… keep the atmosphere friendly and organized.”

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