Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Oakland Businesses Reeling from Poor Economy, Spent Loan Refund Checks

Business in Oakland was booming in September.

A dominant part of the population returned for the fall semester at the University of Pittsburgh and other local colleges. But the return of the students also signals a rise in the Oakland economy because they actually have money to spend as their lenders hand over a semester’s worth of funds for living expenses.

“It’s just amazing,” said Janet Connolly, manager at Starbucks Coffee at the corner of Atwood and Forbes Avenue. “Money that is supposed to be used for rent and food for an entire four months is spent on frivolous purchases in under seven days – I love that time of year!”

Merchants reported a rise in sales of coffee, cases of beer, Dr. Martens shoes and boots, Diesel jeans, used CDs and DVDs, and other “exorbitant amounts of crapola,” as one business owner said.

As September progressed, funds ran low, and the out-of-control spending was curbed as students ran out of available cash. Now, business owners are trying to find innovative ways to lure kids back into their shops.

Businesses will be conducting promotional events during the middle of October as the slump continues, including “We accept purchases made entirely with assorted change” and “A case of beer is like buying 36 quarter drafts – and at the same price.”

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