Lynchburg businesses react as college students leave early for winter break

Lynchburg businesses react as college students leave early for winter break

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – College students across Lynchburg are heading back home for Thanksgiving.

But this traditional mass exodus will not be the same this year.

“The challenging part for us is gonna be all those college students, instead of leaving towards the end of the year, they’re gonna be gone pretty much now,” said Tommy Clark, Mission House Coffee owner.

Clark is talking about college students leaving for Thanksgiving. But this year, many won’t return until January due to early or remotely-conducted exams.

Clark says this will impact his business and others.

“And we’ve already seen them kind of slowly disappearing, and so for us that just means an immediate drop in sales, just kind of like this summer when COVID started. College students left two months early and the sales reflected that,” said Clark.

A few blocks down at The Hip Tulip, owner Kelli Willis says having kids around usually brings more traffic.

“Really to have the kids here brings in parents, brings in just everybody – friends, family,” said Willis.

She says she’ll be relying on locals to help her business through the holidays.

Back at Mission House Coffee, Clark says tipped employees will also be impacted by the early leave.

“The unfortunate side is, of course is, you know, baristas and all of our employees – it’s not just the hourly wage that they get. They also get tips. They also get hours because of business, and so if the business goes away, then we can’t afford to have more staff on at a time,” said Clark.

Clark says his business and others will have to be more creative to keep afloat through the holidays.

The University of Lynchburg finished final exams Tuesday. They will not begin spring classes until January 25.

Liberty University students have a remote option available after Thanksgiving. Final exams will be administered remotely according to their academic calendar.

Liberty will not begin spring classes until late January.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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