Archive for Saturday, June 10, 2006

Concert creates good vibes for area businesses

Liquor, grocery, big-box stores see sales soar

June 10, 2006


Cash drawers are popping and the dollars are dropping as thousands of Wakarusa Festival attendees head for the shops to buy everything from booze to bug spray, incense and "hippie clothing."

"Bottled water takes it all. Bottled water and tents. Then lawn chairs, then sunscreen, then bug spray. Tiki torches, too," said Bob Catlin, co-manager of Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa.

Many businesses report a tremendous swell in sales over the past two days.

Stores benefiting most are liquor stores, grocery stores and big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

Catlin said Wal-Mart prepared for the festival weekend by stocking extra in-demand items.

He also said Wal-Mart was "hammered" Wednesday and Thursday by festivalgoers buying camping supplies.

Area liquor stores are experiencing a similar sales boom.

Brian Fadden, owner of Parkway Wine & Spirits, 3514 Clinton Parkway, said his business has increased at least 60 percent. That's partly from the store's advertised title as the "official liquor store for Wakarusa," Fadden said.

He paid $750 for a full-page ad in a promotional booklet handed out by festival promoters. The booklet steers out-of-town visitors to local businesses such as grocery stores and of course, Parkway Wine & Spirits, the only liquor store listed. But the store location doesn't hurt, either.

"I'm by the Hy-Vee. People are stocking up with food and we're on their way out there," he said.


Gail Ciesielski, RN at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, talks about some of the health issues at the medical tent. Enlarge video

Linda's Liquor, 1540 Wakarusa Drive, is also close to the festival grounds.

Owner Linda Vantuyl couldn't pin a number on how much sales have gone up, but she's sure the customers are in town for Wakarusa.

"They wear different types of clothes, so you know a lot of 'em when they come in. And it's fun seeing the tags come in from all over," she said.

Bob Sanner, of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, said the festival's economic benefits for Lawrence businesses are increasingly apparent.


Festival-goers Justin Westfall of Colorado, and friend Jillian Berres describe how they're keeping cool and safe in the heat. Enlarge video

"They're certainly making their presence known," he said, noting that Wakarusa-related sales have steadily increased since the festival's first year in 2004.

But not all businesses have seen gains.

Managers at three local fast food restaurants all said their sales have remained steady. And at Creation Station, 726 Mass., clerk Stephanie Staves said she hadn't noticed an increase in sales at all.


Greta Kraus of Lawrence describes working at a fundraising beer stand for a local nonprofit. Enlarge video

At Third Planet Imports, 846 Mass., buyer Kristen Ferrel said the shop, which sells incense, hippie-style clothing and body jewelry - merchandise that attracts customers likely to attend the Wakarusa Festival - hadn't seen increased store traffic.

Ferrel said the lack of increased walk-in customers at the store might be because most festivalgoers stay in the West Lawrence area for the weekend. But it also might be because Third Planet has a booth at the festival.


Sarah Seaman, 21, a Kansas University student, describes what's selling at an official Wakarusa merchandise booth. Enlarge video

The booth, Ferrel said, is doing well selling political T-shirts, incense and "hippie clothes." On Thursday, workers at the store on Massachusetts Street had to restock the booth because it sold out of multiple items.

Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway, also has a booth at Wakarusa. Manager John Olson calls it "the general store."

It stocks drinks, snacks, bug spray, toilet paper and other items so campers don't have to leave the festival grounds.

Olson said that the Hy-Vee on Clinton Parkway has seen sales increase at least 5 percent to 8 percent in the past two days. But that's no surprise, he said.

"You got 15,000 people," Olson said. "You can't hardly help but see some lift."

Wakarusa Festival 2006

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bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence will make far more money off the hippies than it will the few arrests and (federally paid) overtime for 70 police officers to run those silly drug checkpoints.

This is why we should welcome the stinking dirty hippies for 4 days. Then they should leave.

Sandman 11 years, 11 months ago

Oddly, the demand for soap, shampoo, and shoes has not increased at any local business.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

ksmattfish....I'm with you.

These young and old festival goers are not poor people so I would extend the welcome mat out to at least 50% -74% of them.

Finally the LJW discovers the bright side. I noticed The Merc was still hopping after normal closing hours Friday night. What a friendly crowd I've experienced thus far.

bullistic 11 years, 11 months ago

what good business? hippies blocking the door to Taco Bell asking for handouts?

bullistic 11 years, 11 months ago

People...allow me to explain. I do not care about the light hearted lawrence hippie. I am complaining about the out of town...bummed a ride...don't know how I'm getting home or buying more I'll beg off of the people of the town that are kind enough to host me...beggars.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

We've had a few "hippy hater" posts in recent days, so I guess the LJW decided to do a piece on the "positives".

Great post, Sandman. As I was reading these articles, I was wondering about "bathing" at the festival. 2-3 days of non-stop sweating will not be abated by any amount of Right Guard Mountain Breeze Sport Gel. I don't know about any of you, but if I don't wash "down there", I get a little grimy/greasy, if you know what I mean. Sometimes when it's hot, I get "funky-stinky". I imagine there are some at the Wak Fest who will soon be approaching "slaveship-stinky".

From what direction will the wind be blowing today?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

"These young and old festival goers are not poor people so I would extend the welcome mat out to at least 50% -74% of them."

The thing is, this event attracts ALL kinds. There are responsible professionals, there are drug dealers, there are drifters who didn't even bring enough money for an entrance fee...

If 75% are "OK/cool", then does that imply that 25% of 15,000 (.25 X 15000 = 3750) are undesirable? I hope not, because that's too many for a town of our size.

I'd like for the LJW to do a follow up story in a couple of weeks on the overall impact of the event. Revenues. The condition of the park facilities. Crime stats. Homelessness. NSF CHECKS AT LIQUOR STORES that no one has any chance of collecting from "Moonspray Johnson of Buffalo NY".

doc1 11 years, 11 months ago

Sandman. The truth of your post is what makes it funny. Ha ha ha.

kingdork44 11 years, 11 months ago

Buy the Hippies a one way ticket to Columbia Mo. That's the best place for the homeless. The City of Columbia passed an ordinance for a 5cent deposit on all cans and bottles, Thinking this would clean the city up. It backfired and all the homeless came streaming in. So they can collect all this downtown. Buy they're ripple and then get all drunk and hang out downtown, where they have nice overhangs on the the streetfronts. And not to mention... There is no public intoxication law there. What a Fine community that is. Barf!!!!!

penguin 11 years, 11 months ago

so apparently hippies are pouring into Wal-Mart...does that not strike anyone else as a bit odd? Iguess giving back to local business means supporting the corporations they all claim to hate.

I am sure not all the hippies are completely poor. I have know quite a few "hippies" with quite large trust funds. Because, as it has been noted they don't have to spend their money on cleaning that definetly helps you save up some $'s

concernedhuman 11 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Marion

I am a professional who just moved to Lawrence & will be contributing to society here.

I used to (in my younger days) travel to shows like the WAK. And yes, I had dreads (which you can shampoo, for those of you who have no experience with them). Anyone who is outside in this heat will smell, that includes you and I.

Calm down and realize that people like to have fun. Its not fair to push your social policy on anyone. This is where the government has been going wrong for years. If you don't like "hippies" than you shouldn't live in a town that has strong roots in liberal ideas & acceptance of people.

CheyenneWay 11 years, 11 months ago

Damn, why cant you old farts extend a warm welcome to some visitors that are mostly from your ethnic background. I guess I'm just not used to elders or those with a bit of knowledge of their surroundings shatting on their own kind. When it comes time for someone to help I just hope they dont run into any of you haters in here. Lighten up and try to meet some people rather than stereotyping everyone into a neat little package to hate on. Were all unique and have something to offer regardless of our vices or choice of attire.

CheyenneWay 11 years, 11 months ago

p.s. When i say ethnic background I mean mostly white american born sometime after 1900.

billybeanbag 11 years, 11 months ago

Many of you all are some really snarky posters. I now picture most of you squatting over the toilet, huffing your own ordure and complaining about how the world stinks.

Flush, darn it! and Try posting a positive thought once in a while. :-)

eskimopieinKS 11 years, 11 months ago

thanks for leaving your money in our economy

now go home

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

macon47; even the hippie detritus (aka extra homeless people) will clear out after about 2 weeks.

And on another, semi-unrelated note I'd rather talk to one of these accursed hippies than be patronized rigid by a Texan, as happened Thursday evening at the Eldridge. So, silver haired Texan from Houston who was outside the Eldridge Thursday night @ 9:30, if you happen to be reading this, DIE IN A FIRE!

That is all.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 11 months ago

ALERT! ALERT! THE OVERREACTION ALARM HAS SOUNDED! Dang, some of you really can go overboard with your assumptions. Yes, there is a possibility that some of the festivalgoers may take a likin' to Lawrence. Yes, some of them may decide to stay in Lawrence. That does not mean that they are going to be homeless. It certainly does not mean that 3,600 of them will be staying!

CheyenneWay 11 years, 11 months ago

If you do decide to go to the fest take this piece of advice with you:

A funny thing to do is, if you're out hiking and your friend gets bitten by a poisonous snake, tell him you're going to go for help, then go about ten feet and pretend that you got bit by a snake. Then start an argument with him about who's going to go get help. A lot of guys will start crying. That's why it makes you feel good when you tell them it was just a joke.

Sigmund 11 years, 11 months ago

Even if the festival goers wanted to pay the "everyday high prices" of the downtown merchants, where are they going to park? I've been downtown several times since the festival began and while it has been hard to find parking, once I got over to Mass. it was completely dead. The one exception was Free State Brewery where the crowd smoking on the front patio spilled across the sidewalk and into the street.

Well at least WalMart pays property and business taxes, collect local sales taxes, and the associates get regular pay checks and, after all the various federal taxes are collected, spend what's left in Lawrence. They then pay the local sales taxes, property taxes, and if the around 50 cents per gallon of gas in yet more federal taxes. The reason I mention these taxes is because we are going to need this money to pay for streets and sewers not to mention the 75 million dollar library. But not to worry, I do have a plan.

We advertise Lawrence's pot friendly ordinance to surrounding communities and point out the obvious legal benefits of smoking dope in downtown Lawrence. We then can collect $200 "wink and nod" pot fines from hemp friendly visitors not just from Topeka and Kansas City, but nationally. Why not add a head shop to the new library's coffee shop? It would be a win-win for everyone.

I wonder if this the type of progressive creativity the City Kommission has in mind for the new City Manager?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

Newsflash-- Music events are scheduled nearly round the clock, in a park at least a dozen miles from downtown. Those attending the festival came to spend time there, not downtown.

If the festival isn't run out of town by the knee-jerkers well represented on this board, returning festival-goers will gradually begin to discover aspects of Lawrence to the east of Wakarusa St.

But in the meantime, Sigmund, why not just try typing "Filbert!" It's a much more efficient way of indicating that you have absolutely nothing useful to contribute.

alm77 11 years, 11 months ago

Sigmund, they are bussing them in to Mass. so they don't HAVE to find parking.

The fest is doing what they can to encourage local business shopping. There are ads all over the fest and maps to the specialty shops.

I was surprised to find that fest goers are patronizing Wal-mart. But you have to remember not everyone has been educated on their particular offenses.

Manchester, TN plays host to Bonnaroo, another music festival and this is a direct quote from a local paper:


"Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival is a windfall for Manchester/Coffee County and the rest of the counties in Middle Tennessee to the tune of around $22 million, according to a study conducted by the Business and Economic Research Center at MTSU."

Someone should do a study for Waka weekend and see what's what. That might help people endure the traffic and other annoyances.

kingdork44 11 years, 11 months ago

Back off bthom37. Leave Macon47 alone. Today I am on Macon's side.. Hippies. Go to Columbia MO. You'll be much happier there. Trust Me.

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago


Um, all I was saying is that the hippie detritus will eventually leave also, based on last year, where downtown was awash in hippie stink for a good 2 weeks after until the last of the burnouts left.

That's a small price compared to the income we take from these hippies who somehow have money.

But next time I talk to your special, special brother macon I'll be sure to use smaller words. Thanks!

kingdork44 11 years, 11 months ago

btom37, Yes your right. no more from me today.

ASBESTOS 11 years, 11 months ago

If you don't like "hippies" than you shouldn't live in a town that has strong roots in liberal ideas & acceptance of people.

Some "hippie crystal gripping nonsense".

It is funny how those who consider themselves "liberal and acceptance.." are so intolerant and closed minded.

wlpywd 11 years, 11 months ago

i still can't believe the mentality of us midwesterners, not just our lovely Lawrence, but Kansas City as well. Always a semi-strong voice complaining about any event that attracts out-of town people in large numbers. The cities elsewhere from coast-to-coast that have huge growth, large corporate headquarters, job growth and decent wages are all the cities that do whatever they can, and bend-over-backwards to welcome and attract people for ANY type of event, be it confrences, music festivals, sporting events, tournaments, tourism... anything that brings in large number of people for a short time, who spend their money, have a great impression of the city, and leave. If its super welcoming, a few even come back for vacations, make recommendations to friends, etc. Lawrence will never grow or have decent wages if we only have a "keep local dollars local", spent by locals only for locals. Its a circle spiraling downwards. KU basketball games alone will not bring in enough money to keep the economy headed in the right direction. We should all be trying to attract MORE events like this one; not music fests, but events that bring in a wide range of people from everywhere. why is everyone upset? even if it was nothing but a 'drug fest' (which it is not), we get their money spent here, and they are all contained at the park, miles from downtown. Its not like there are crackhead pedophiles roaming the streets downtown eating babies. The police are doing their job to catch the distributers at the lake, the city is getting tax revenue, and some [limited] businesses are seeing a revenue increase. If we had 10 major events throughout the year that had this kind of positive impact, especially if it was different types that brought revenue for different types of businesses, then there is nothing but good for all of us. Local business, corporations, the city, workers.

plus, it may force planners to realize we actually do need road improvements everywhere in lawrence.

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

"If you don't like "hippies" than you shouldn't live in a town that has strong roots in liberal ideas & acceptance of people.

Some "hippie crystal gripping nonsense".

It is funny how those who consider themselves "liberal and acceptance.." are so intolerant and closed minded.""

Yes, so liberal and openminded were our forefathers. Except to slave owners. But that's different, because slave owners were bad, right?

Disliking hippies is perfectly ok. Loving hippies is perfectly ok (except you can never get rid of that patchouli smell, no matter how much you shower). Not giving a d*** is also ok. That's what being open-minded means, ASBESTOS.

bthom37 11 years, 11 months ago

wlpywd; that's because midwesterners tend to have low self-esteem about being midwesterners. As someone who moved here from the east coast, I can tell you that it is undeserved, but most people won't believe me when I tell them that.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Asbestos, I look at the hippie/Lawrence thing a different way.

If you don't like hippies, don't come to the town where, a generation ago, the hippies took over, where the Weathermen and Black Panthers were celebrities, holding recruiting meetings in pot-smoke-filled apartments in the Oread neighborhood. The hippies rioted and packed the streets with demonstrations, caused repeated cancellation of classes with threats of violence, and set fire to the Union. Because of KU, Lawrence was where drugs, violence-in-the-name of non-violence, acid rock, and free love reigned.

Unfortunately, many of the afore-mentioned hippies stayed around, and are now part of the antidisestablishmentarianist establishment.

That is why Lawrence is a hippie town.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 11 months ago

The bottom line is the majority of any group is that they are fine folks. Hippy types are just as concerned about the economy,environmental pollution,social injustice,personal hygiene, the working poor and educational opportunities. AND they love music and are generally very friendly.

Just because some do not work neither makes them poor nor homeless.

Do all of any group dislike Wal- Mart to the same extent that I do? I would say no way.

Do all of this group like drugs? Probaly not because to many that is not healthy due to the fact that alcohol dehydrates when excess is consumed as well as depletes the body of nutrients thus painful hangovers. Passing the proverbial joint or bong is a great source of colds and sore throats.

President Bush has a history of hard drugs and alcohol and this man was never a hippy. Then there is Limbaugh.

On any KU game day how many do you suppose are driving around legally drunk?

When guests come to down allow them time to enjoy themselves so long as they are NOT brawling in the streets and parking lots.

Following festival and concert circuits is a ton of fun which I managed to do for several years. The reality that surfaced is there are nice human beings no matter where you go.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Merrill wrote: "President Bush has a history of hard drugs and alcohol and this man was never a hippy. Then there is Limbaugh."

You just couldn't resist, could you?

How about this?

And then there are all the member of the PLC.

There. Are you happy now?

monkeyhawk 11 years, 11 months ago

merrill, I'm glad you don't like WalMart. I don't have to worry about losing a parking space to you (since there are so few because seems like most folks love low prices, too.) Well, maybe I wouldn't lose a parking space to you anyway, as I'm sure your recycling dates are done on the T.

See, I agree with you that there are nice people everywhere. I consider the nice people to be the ones who are not trying to cram, and even legislate, their own views and personal dislikes down my throat and everyone elses. This is what makes you a pure hypocrite.

anonimiss 11 years, 11 months ago

If anything, I would consider Lawrence and Kansas in general a socially conservative history. Lawrence was founded by a group of people from Massachussetts who wanted to impose their ideas of what's right and wrong in an area thousands of miles away. John Brown, Kansas's hero, killed innocent people who supported the south, regardless of if they actually owned slaves. He even helped form and train a gasp military to protect the town. He stockpiled weapons and tried to rob a federal munitions fort to start a violent uprising among the slaves. He claimed he was doing God's will. In the free/slave election for Kansas to become a state, multiple capitals sent back different vote counts. The senate approved Kansas as a free state along party lines, even though 2 of the 3 votes had Kansas as a slave state (even more of a steal than Bush's taking of Florida where he actually won the state in the election). Kansas was the first state to adopt prohibition. Even women's suffrage and worker's comp landmarks in Kansas can be traced back to the strong religious mindset of Kansans.

crayjah3 11 years, 11 months ago

... I can write anything and someone will pin the tail on the negative donkey. Break out the organic thousand island dressing...who's purchased a bottle lately?
Perish the thought that some might try to be creative and explore. Perhaps we might champion the idea that people having a fine time is a good thang.

Now, all you haters unleash on me.

LunaUndone 11 years, 11 months ago

  1. Kristen was misquoted in the article. Third Planet's booth was not "selling out" of anything. We were told there would be NO T-shirts allowed only to discover several booths with T-shirts, so we went back to town for some. We also decided to beef up our supply of hats and rings that had been forgotten in the overwhelming task of packing a huge portion of the store and hauling it to the lake.
  2. For ALL of the vendors that I spoke with, the festival was a bust. The layout was such that festival goers could go to every single stage without even passing within 20 feet of a vendors booth. Vendors put up the front money and should be considered a little bit more when whoever (and I mean whoever...we didn't get to SPEAK to anyone about our booth until set up day!!!) plans what will go where. It isn't rocket science to follow the "milk at the back of the grocery store" rule of thumb folks.
  3. Third Planet could have done very very well out there if the layout had been the least bit coherent.
  4. Thank god for all those "dirty hippies" who came on downtown Monday after the cops so rudely ejected them from the campgrounds because we did have a great Monday.
  5. To Sigmund...did you ever stop to think that MOST of the downtown businesses are small, locally owned and operated businesses who do not even have a fourth of the buying power of a big box store? Yes, it can cost more to get things downtown, but there are also things downtown that you cannot get anywhere else in town. The diversity of items available downtown is worth a little extra in most cases. And by the by, small businesses pay WAY more taxes than big businesses do...who gets tax abatements? Not any little one of a kind shop I have ever heard of. I think that's it for now. Blessed Be and Namaste, Luna

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