They're coming. And their wallets are open.
As DePauw University students trickle back to Greencastle in advance of new student orientation Saturday, merchants around campus are looking forward to seeing them -- and the influx of money and business that they bring.
Though owners and managers say they have significant customer bases in year-round Greencastle residents, they're beefing up staffing and hours in anticipation of the flood from one of the largest new students classes in recent history.
Ernie Ford, the owner of Fine Print Book Store, 6 E. Washington St., said he can count on bringing in between $250,000 and $300,000 in text book sales each semester. Without the business from students, Ford said he likely wouldn't be able to keep the shop open.
Sales at Hank's Deli, 302 E. Washington St., usually double during move-in week and increase by at least 25 percent throughout the rest of the year, said Carol Knapp, a manager.
It's not uncommon for the line of hungry parents to stretch out the door the first week students come back to campus, she said.
Marvin's Restaurant assistant manager Albertina Brown said business picks up enough when classes are in session to add two more employees per shift.
She wasn't quite sure how much revenue jumps, but "it's a lot," she said, with a smile.
With nearly 700 new students this year, and a total student body of more than 2,300, business owners said DePauw has a significant impact on their bottom lines.
In addition to adding employees, Marvin's will extend its hours to 1 a.m. on weekdays, 2 a.m. on weekends and midnight on Sundays to accommodate the night-owl internal clocks of college students, Brown said.
But more than money, Carol Knapp said she looks forward to seeing some of Hank's regular customers again.
"Some of them say they waited all summer to have a to have one of our sandwiches," she said.