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School bell alters area businesses

Like parents, western Nevada County businesses that attract a lot of young customers view the start of school with mixed emotions.

Retailers that sell clothes and school supplies can’t wait for school to start, but some have to adjust their hours and make other changes when many of their customers leave the streets for the classroom.

For 49er Family Fun Park in Grass Valley, that means opening at 2 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. beginning Sept. 6 because 19 of its employees have to go back to school.



Manager Mark Sanders said attendance remains strong during the reduced hours the park is open, and the facility attracts a lot more birthday, family and other parties during the school year.

They’ll even open the park mornings for special events if given enough advanced notice. “Basically, we try to do everything we can to accommodate families,” Sanders said.




The Round Table Pizza outlet at Lake of the Pines is about the only place in the south county where youth can congregate, and shift manager Robert Trotter sees a change in customer patterns when the school bell starts ringing.

“We definitely see more business on Fridays,” Trotter said Monday. “We get a little bit more after the games” when the Bear River High School football team plays at home.

As far as Rachel Nault is concerned, Nevada Union High School can’t play enough home football games.

“NU football games help a lot,” said Nault, a manager at Big A Rootbeer Drive-in in Grass Valley. “We get a lot more business when they play.”

Big A closes an hour earlier when school starts “because business definitely slows down,” she said, but being next door to Sierra Cinemas helps on weekends.

“We get more business on Fridays because we’re next to the theaters,” she said.

Whenever they decide to spend their money, teenagers have quite a bit of it – $170 billion a year total, according to research by Teenage Research Unlimited of Northbrook, Ill.

The average teen spent $101 per week last year, according to the firm, with most of the money coming from parents.

“We’ve repeatedly found that parents hate to say ‘no’ to teens,” said Michael Wood, vice president of the firm. “They’ll likely go without something themselves (rather) than deny their children.”

As far as back-to-school spending is concerned, the National Retail Federations expects parents to spend $483 – a 7 percent increase – on new clothes and school supplies for each student in the family this year.


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