Merchants combat slow business with Dinkytown ‘stroll’

by Bei Hu

Amid the din of construction along University Avenue, this afternoon University students can participate in the third annual Dinkytown Passport Stroll.
The stroll is sponsored by the Dinkytown Business Association. About 29 Dinkytown merchants are registered to participate.
“We want students to know all of the different merchants that are in Dinkytown,” said Leah Cutter, the association’s administrative coordinator.
Free “passport” books listing names and addresses of participating businesses can be picked up at University residence halls, student housing cooperatives, fraternities and sororities.
Each store’s employees will stamp a section of the passport books. Stroll participants who have all the pages of their passport books stamped by 7 p.m. will be entered in a prize drawing held at Fowl Play. About 30 different prizes such as a televisions, VCRs, stereos and headset radios will be given away.
The passport books also contain participating stores’ coupons, which will expire at the end of fall quarter.
Many Dinkytown businesses had expected a sluggish season because of construction on University Avenue. At different stages in the construction, sections of Dinkytown streets were closed down, and traffic was detoured.
To boost business some stores, such as Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery, introduced special discounts for customers.
Completion of the 14th Avenue and University Avenue bridges has been pushed back for a few weeks because railroad tracks need to be moved away from the construction workers.
Cutter said Dinkytown road construction is now scheduled to finish in mid-November, instead of late October. University Avenue between 10th and 13th avenues will open to traffic in about two weeks.
Cutter said the road construction has had minimal effect on Dinkytown businesses because much of the work occurs during the night or when University classes are not in session.
Robb Halak, manager of the Dinkydale Deli, said the annual stroll is essentially free advertising for his store, along with all other Dinkytown businesses.
“I would like to see a lot more students coming through our deli here,” he said.
University students are an important part of Dinkytown business clientele, and the stroll is one way for the two to become better acquainted, said Bud Platt, manager of Campus Drug. He said about 80 strollers visited his store last year, and about 90 percent of his customers are students.
“We want people to realize that you can come to Dinkytown and have fun, so that will help bring more people in,” Cutter said.