Local businesses shift strategies to attract students, families

A group of people shop Tuesday afternoon on Grand Avenue. To account for the influx of potential customers during the school season, several downtown businesses adjust their marketing strategies in an attempt to capture additional revenue.

Building a successful retail brick-and-motor store in any city entails creating a business model able to weather the ebbs and flows of consumer spending, Laramie Main Street Executive Director Trey Sherwood said.

In Laramie, that model can lean heavy on the University of Wyoming, Sherwood explained.

To account for the influx of potential customers during the school season, several downtown businesses adjust their marketing strategies in an attempt to capture additional revenue.

Basecamp owner Rebecca Walsh said the recently opened sporting goods store is ramping up social media posts and scheduling events to attract UW students and their families.

“Instagram has been huge for us,” Walsh said. “When I was an undergrad at UW, downtown seemed old and boring. But it’s really been reinvigorated recently, and we’re trying to channel some of that energy by hosting several events throughout the month.”

On Fridays, the store sponsors Little Laramie Hikers, a family-friendly morning foray into nature. And Saturdays, Walsh said the store sets up a slack line for potential customers to enjoy.

Within the last month, water bottles and backpacks have topped the sales roster. But as winter quickly approaches, Walsh said the store is slated to start focusing on the ski season.

“We also have our own beer, Basecamp Brew, at Altitude Chophouse & Brewery,” she added. “So that helps get our name out there.”

After opening in January, Speedgoat owner Rajeev Patel said his staff was looking forward to the fall crowd.

“It’s big for us,” Patel said. “This is our first busy season since opening. With UW football games bringing more people into town, it’s more exposure for us.”

Working closely with other downtown business owners, Patel said several restaurants were looking forward to an increase of customers.

“This year, it was a slow summer for the food industry,” he explained.

Selling burritos and cocktails attracts a loyal customer base, Patel’s business partner Tim Hentgen said, but the duo created a late-night menu paired with drink specials to draw in even more people as the fall semester kicks into high gear.

At the Knothole, an apparel store specializing in Wyoming-centric clothing, the Carter family has been learning the ins and outs of Laramie’s economy for decades.

“I started the business with my husband, Barry, in 1990,” Stephanie Carter said.

The Knothole is the retail arm of Pinebeach Ink, a wholesale screen printing company.

“WyoTech spawned the need for Knothole as much as UW,” Carter said. “They had a need for wearables, and so we moved downtown and opened a storefront on Second Street.”

Tourists supply steady revenue during the summer and wholesale is strong year round, but Carter said the fall semester is their peak selling season.

“Our slow time is typically in the spring,” she said. “A lot of the spending happens in the holidays, and (spring) is a quiet time for consumers.”

With UW in full swing, Sherwood said Laramigos could expect to see more events, increased marketing efforts and promotions pop up around downtown through December.

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