While the coaches and players participating in this week’s Dixie Youth World Series were concerned with driving in runs for their respective teams, area merchants enjoyed the increased business traffic they and their families have pumped into the local economy.
And it’s been a busy week too.
"It’s been tremendous," said Kathy Butts, manager of McAlister’s of Auburn. "We’ll probably do the best week of business this store has had since it opened."
Butts says the 1651 E. University Drive store has done more than $10,000 in catering this week already.
But bracing for the influx of customers is something Butts says she and her staff had geared up for well in advance of the DYWS.
"We beefed up our staff and so far that’s worked," Butts said. "We had to do some creative things to keep well-staffed, though, and that planning has really come together."
Come game time, McAlister’s staff members were also selling the restaurant’s trademark tea at Samford Park, where the DYWS games were played, and passing out coupons for cookies their deli bakes.
To accommodate the crowd after the games, Butts and the staff at McAlister’s have individual serving lines set up for DYWS teams and their regulars.
And while the DYWS has brought a lot of extra visitors to Auburn, this is right around the time of the year that Butts says things usually pick up.
Auburn University students returning to town and Soroity Rush Week account for another estimated 1,200 customers Butts expects to visit McAlister’s this weekend.
In addition to bagging groceries, area supermarkets have bagged some extra business with the DYWS in town, too.
"The crowd we’ve had in town has helped pick business up quite a bit," said Betty Lucas, manager of the Winn-Dixie store at 1625 E. University Drive.
"But you have to remember, college students are returning to Auburn, too, this week and their parents are here buying groceries for them."
However, home football games are the weekends Lucas says the store sees its most business.
Bruno’s manager, Jason Ferrell agrees with Lucas.
"Although the rain earlier this week hurt us a little, we still picked up several extra customers these past few days," Ferrell said.
And after taking in a game of baseball and grabbing a bite to eat, many of those attending the DYWS naturally are looking for a spot to sit down and relax.
Jeff Gibson has been all too happy to accommodate them.
"It’s been very, very busy around here," said Gibson, general manager of Holiday Inn Express of Auburn. "We’ve been operating close to capacity all week."
Two teams from South Carolina competing in the DYWS this week have been staying at the 2013 S. College St. hotel Gibson manages.
Each team had about 20 rooms they were using over the course of the week.
"The two teams accounted for about 50 percent of the rooms in the hotel," Gibson said.
The out-of-state crowd is something Gibson welcomes, but says it isn’t something he and his staff were unprepared for. "It’s business as usual around here," Gibson said.
"We run about 80 percent occupancy most of the time, so this falls right in line with what we usually do."