'It's pretty dead': Struggling Chapel Hill businesses hoping to score sales with weekend football game

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Friday, September 11, 2020
Chapel Hill businesses hope to win sales with gameday weekend
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A lack of students on UNC's campus is putting a huge damper on many Chapel Hill businesses along Franklin Street that are usually thriving the Friday before a weekend football game.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Carolina gear is out on display along Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, although not many people coming by to purchase it. Small businesses are struggling in what's become a dead college town.

"It's really sad. We should be busy right now. We have a store full of people," Chapel Hill Sportswear owner Holly Dedmond.

Her store has been empty and it's hard for Dedmond to see the space bare the day before UNC-Chapel Hill's first football game of the season on Saturday.

That's usually a huge moneymaker, but not this year.

RELATED: Franklin Street businesses dread early departure of UNC students

Franklin Street businesses dread early departure of UNC students

"It's pretty dead. Not a whole lot going on," said Dedmond.

Most UNC students are gone for the semester. They moved back home when the university reverted to remote learning due to an outbreak in COVID-19 cases on campus.

As for the game, fans are not allowed inside Kenan Stadium and tailgating is also prohibited.

Downtown Chapel Hill tweeted out a message encouraging folks to patronize Franklin Street spots to catch the game.

Sup Dogs Restaurant has expanded its outdoor dining area. Manager Hannah Willcox says they've been faring OK, but revenue has slipped now that students have left campus.

"We're used to being full in the fall - completely full, slam packed," said Willcox.

Businesses are now waiting to see if they can score much-needed sales with Saturday's match-up.

"We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know if anybody's going to show up. They might not, they might," said Willcox.

"I hope that we're going to have some business tomorrow, but realistically I don't think that we will. I think that most people will stay home and watch the game on TV," said Dedmond.

Most restaurants are open for dine-in, but not all. Chapel Hill has compiled a list of where you can go to watch the game.