Welcome back, $tudent$: 'The school year is our big money maker'

EUGENE, Ore. - As freshmen unpack their belongings in their new digs, they're probably unloading bedding, boots and books.

But there's something else they're bringing to school with them: money.

Students aren't exactly known for being flush with cash, but when they grab a bagel, get a haircut, or buy some suddenly necessary rain gear, their small contributions to the local economy add up.

Several businesses contacted for input on this story declined an interview, saying they were entirely too busy trying to keep up with their newfound customers. Track Town Pizza said they had orders for hundreds of pies, and the manager at Caf Roma said they had a constant stream of customers.

Nathan Boozer, a server at the Wild Duck, said the summer is a fairly slow season for business in Eugene.

"The school year is, I think for the whole town, our big money maker," Boozer said. "During the summer a lot of people go out of town. A great increase in income comes when school starts for sure."

The restaurant industry isn't the only one coming off a slow summer season.

Jim Lavender, a barber at the Red Rooster Barber Shop, said customers tend to dwindle when school isn't in session.

"These last two weeks is our slowest time of the whole year," Lavender said. "Now on Monday we're going to have 26,000 coming back. And so it does help."

All those extra bodies helps the Red Rooster double - or even triple - its business.

"During the summer, sometimes we do say 6, 6, 10 a day summertime," Lavender said, "doing upwards of 18, 20 a day during school. So it makes a difference."

Businesses aren't the only ones seeing a bigger bottom line.
Boozer said employees in the service industry also see more money when students return, and that's a change he welcomes with open arms.

"We're all really excited to get back in the groove of things and work really hard," he said.