While spectators gathered to enjoy the Island View Classic as it spun around the Embarcadero Loop last weekend, many business owners in Isla Vista spent their Saturday worrying about the bike races’ effect on business.
Some local owners said the event hindered access to many of I.V.’s shops, with parking even more limited than usual and the circular Embarcadero Loop essentially cordoned off for the race. As a result, several business owners said the bike race had a negative impact on their sales.
According to Tom Leu, owner of I.V. Drip on Embarcadero Del Norte, the race made it difficult for customers to casually access the businesses inside the barricades – a problem reflected by a drop in sales.
“It’s horrible,” Leu said. “Normally it really hurts our business. We didn’t have a single extra customer – we lost a bunch because of bike races. Most of the businesses are not happy.”
I.V. Market owner Lee Johnson said his business was likely less affected as it was not enclosed by the loop, but said that the attraction may have had some negative effects.
“It probably hurt us,” Johnson said. “A little anyway, but we don’t know how much because we don’t have anything to compare it with.”
George McMaster, owner of McMaster’s Steak & Hoagie, said his business felt the effects of the bike race in the morning, but managed to recover the usual number of customers later in the day.
“It hurt us early,” McMaster said. “We didn’t do anything before 1 p.m., but later on we did the same amount as we normally would do. I wouldn’t open early again. Next year I won’t open until the afternoon, but all in all we did about the same.”
Not all businesses experienced the same effects, however. Derek Diestler, co-owner of Eclectic IV, said the Island View Classic did not make that much of a difference in business. However, Diestler also said that the bike race itself was not the only factor affecting business over the weekend, as UCSB’s Spring Insight drew a new crowd of customers into Isla Vista.
“The race was so-so,” Diestler said. “It didn’t really help us. We had more business from the parents visiting this weekend. That was helpful.”
Brian Yoo, owner of Caliroll Express, said that, while the race neither hampered nor helped business, he saw a different group of customers throughout the day. Yoo said that the bike race setup drew in new customers, but the lack of available parking was an issue.
“It definitely brought in a couple family types and older people who are not normally in Isla Vista,” Yoo said. “But there was no parking or road access to Subway, Starbucks and Caliroll. … A couple of my employees couldn’t get to work on time.”
While food sales may have ailed over the course of the daylong event, several businesses experienced a boost in alcohol sales due to the day’s other event, the All- Sorority Volleyball Tournament, Yoo said.
“In the drinking crowd there was somewhat of a boost, but I think that had more to do with the volleyball tournament,” Yoo said. “People don’t want to get drunk because of a bike race – they want to get drunk because of an inter-sorority volleyball tournament.”