March Madness has consumed the city of Madison, and as Badgers prepare for their first Final Four game in 14 years, State Street businesses have seen sales skyrocket.
Madison Sweets, a local shop that sells cupcakes, truffles and a variety of other sweet treats, is one business that has seen an increase in sales. Lee Zeuner, assistant manager of Madison Sweets, said the shop usually does well after local sporting events.
Many Badger supporters take to wandering up and down State Street, particularly when Madison wins, Zeuner said. Business was well above average last Saturday, and he said he estimated almost a 30 percent increase in sales. Certain products have been particularly popular this season, such as the candied popcorn called the Badger Mix, he said.
“We do an assortment of Badger-themed candies and popcorns. Any time we do things like that on game days, we basically sell out,” Zeuner said.
The University Bookstore has been extremely busy as well. Angie Maniaci, the store’s collegiate clothing buyer, said the store has updated its merchandise for the big game, adding 20 different Final Four items. The number is almost triple what it was when the Badgers made it this far in 2000, she said.
Maniaci said their most popular item by far seems to be Nike’s “Net Worthy” shirt. She said there has been a huge spike in interest for this product because it was the style worn by the Badger players after their Elite Eight win.
The store has seen much more business than it has in past March Madness years, and Maniaci said they have had a difficult time keeping up with demand. The store is beginning to increase the store’s staff, and Maniaci is responsible for keeping up with the onslaught of customers.
“I keep reordering shirts and then they are gone right away. Some of the things we have not even been able to take out of the boxes,” Maniaci said. “We just put them on the ground and people dig in them.”
The shops of State Street are not the only ones affected by this sudden surge of customers. Many restaurants and bars in particular have also seen a huge spike in patrons.
Seth Blackstone, assistant general manager of State Street Brats, said the restaurant is busier than he has seen it since football season.
This past weekend, Blackstone said the bar was almost entirely full and he thinks they nearly hit the fire capacity of 450 people. He said they anticipate seeing a similar crowd size for this coming weekend. The increase in business has also created a need for additional staff in the restaurant, he added.
“We also have more guys around for busing and stuff. We have to deal with the increase in demand,” Blackstone said.
With the great increase of crowds on Saturday, Blackstone said the environment becomes more rowdy at the bar. However, he said fans were in good spirits last weekend because of the game and he expects a similarly positive crowd at the next game, especially if the Badgers bring home another win.