CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – It’s U of I’s graduation weekend. Champaign-Urbana businesses are getting ready for one of the busiest events of the year.
One hotel employee said when there’s a university-related event, they start booking months in advance. They have to stock up on extra towels, blankets, and more. He said it’s stressful for the staff, but they’re ready.
“I planned on coming in later than I thought I was originally going to, so everything was pretty much booked up,” Brody Rickels said.
Rickels is one of thousands of family members visiting Champaign-Urbana for U of I’s graduation. Hotels, restaurants and stores are booking up and selling out.
“On a normal, typical day, we would only make $7k usually, at either store. But already, and we’re not even closed yet, we’re at $11k,” Annie Arnold, a store associate at Gameday Spirit on Green St. said.
At that store, families have been stopping by all day for some last-minute Illini gear.
“Everyone’s just coming to get basic Illinois merch because you can get two shirts for the price of one,” Arnold said.
Graduation drives a lot of economic activity, but so do all big university celebrations. One hotel employee said they expect business to boom this time every year.
“If the parents come, they need to stay somewhere, and these are the places they can stay,” he said.
He said even though the hotel is usually pretty calm, people start booking rooms as early as two months before graduation. And all 60 rooms have been booked for over two weeks.
“It’s really busy. In the whole hotel, we don’t have a single room left for the people who walk in,” he said.
And it’s not the only time of year Campustown looks like this.
“I don’t know about tomorrow, but today was nothing compared to Mom’s Weekend,” Arnold said.
One restaurant has stopped taking orders until Monday, and all that we spoke with were too busy to even give a comment.