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Survival of the busiest: Oxford businesses lean on locals, summer events

By Dana Humen
On May 6, 2014

With college students making up nearly half the city's population, Oxford, Ohio has earned its title as a college town.

According to the city of Oxford's website, "over 44 percent of Oxford's population is between the age of 20 and 24 due to the strong influence of Miami University."

From mid-May until late August, however, classes end and many students return home for the summer. With students gone, local business owners must find ways to adjust to the slower summers.

"Summertime is about survival," said Andy Amarantos, co-owner of Skipper's Pub.

According to Amarantos, owning a business in Oxford offers about eight months to make a good living, while the summer months are about making enough money to pay bills and make payroll. Amarantos owns Skipper's with his brother Terry, and said they generally don't get paid over the summer.

Although business is slower, Amarantos said between outside visitors, the locals and students spending the summer in Oxford, he is able to run a consistent business.

"For as many years as we've been here, we're pretty steady," Amarantos said. "Of course the numbers aren't what they are during the school year, but we know everybody around here."

Co-owner of Bagel and Deli Shop Gary Franks also said there is enough going on in the summer to keep business going. According to the two, Miami does a good job of bringing different events to Oxford.

"[Business] decreases but there's a lot going on in the summer too," Franks said. "There's a reunion weekend in June, orientation goes all of June and almost every weekend there's a wedding because a lot of Miami alumni come back and get married."

Roger Perry, the owner of Bruno's Pizza, said although business slows, Bruno's still has a lot of local customers that return once the students leave Oxford.

"The summers, they are bad, but they are not as bad on us as they are on businesses that are strictly catered to the students," Perry said.

Franks said it is not until the last few weeks of summer - once summer school is over - that business gets really slow. In order to cope with less business, Skipper's, Bruno's and Bagel and Deli all adjust the size of their staffs and shorten their hours.

Amarantos said his summer staff is cut by at least 50 percent, if not more, and Franks said he has around half to a third of his normal staff working during the summer. Rather than closing at 2:30 a.m. on weekends during the school year, Skipper's cuts its hours in the summer and closes food around 10 p.m. on weekdays and around 12 a.m. on weekends. Bagel and Deli also closes earlier and is only open until 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. While Bruno's is open until 3 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during the school year, Perry said he closes around 10 p.m. in the summer.

According to both Franks and Amarantos, sluggish business over the summer offers them more free time and they generally don't go into work as much as they do during the school year.

Even if they only have a few busy nights a week, the three business owners said it is worth it for them to remain open in the summer.

"If you happen to have one or two good nights a week, it's a good week," Amarantos said. "It's a steady summer, but it is still summertime."


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