Businesses on The Drag struggle with ‘seasonality’ because of school vacations


AUSTIN, Texas — Businesses along The Drag, on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas, seem to open and close all the time. Customers complain about the revolving door of shops, but many of the business owners and managers argue they battle the problem of UT’s school calendar.

Many business live and die by the student population and the school break schedule – when students return to school from summer break, winter break, or if they’re off for eight or nine weeks for the summer.

On Thursday morning, the owners of Thai, How Are You? announced they would not re-open after closing the doors before winter break for UT.

Noi Sukkij and her husband, David Roberts, have owned the restaurant since 2013.

“I put all the energy I have – 80 hours per week, 100 hours per week – but now, it’s time for me to check back on my health,” Sukkij said.


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“To be honest, when I bought that business there, I had no idea – I didn’t do enough study to know that [businesses] come and go, come and go,” Sukkij said.

She’s not the only one to notice how quickly businesses open and close. A block away at Shoe Palace, store manager Jesse Acosta said stores have to survive the seasons without students.

“We’re seasonal – you know, kids are coming and going,” Acosta said.

The store opened two years ago. Before that, it was a Wells Fargo bank branch.

While students are still out for winter break, Acosta has seen customers drop.

“We average about 300 people a day [during the school year], but since school has been out, we average about 124 people a day,” Acosta said. “We are hitting our goals but at the same time you are seeing how traffic has a big effect on sales.”

Sukkij said she saw a similar pattern. Foot traffic and customers would decline rapidly during the off-times. She said on any given day, she would feed 500 customers plus any take-out orders. During the breaks, those numbers would drop “below half.”

Acosta’s solution is service and knowing the audience. He said even in the era of online retail, service is what keeps customers coming back to the store.


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