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Some Downtown Businesses Looking Forward To Cashing In As Lollapalooza Returns For First Time In 2 Years

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Starting Thursday, the masses return to Grant Park for the first Lollapalooza in two years.

There are, of course, a lot of people hoping to cash in on those crowds. And as CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported Wednesday evening, some Loop businesses could really use a break.

Downtown business is already heating up just blocks away from where Lollapalooza is expected to draw hundreds of thousands. And shops near Grant Park are making fast work to meet demand.

"I put in a huge order for milks and all types of supplies to make sure we can get through it. Our staff will be working longer hours," said Emily Roberts, manager of Hero Coffee at 22 E. Jackson Blvd. "I am locked and loaded."

"Just making sure we have more merchandise on the sales floor," said My Chicago! gift shop manager Jose Bahena. "bringing in more people."

It is the first time Bahena has been optimistic about sale since March 2020.

"Last year, it was completely dead," Bahena said. "There weren't a lot of people visiting – not visiting Chicago – that definitely hurting us."

Due to a mixture of the pandemic and violence and looting, a drop in downtown visitors meant a lot fewer customers at My Chicago!, at 28 S. Michigan Ave. Thus, there were a lot more lonely snow globes and a 90 percent drop in sales.

But with his shop facing Lollapalooza on Michigan Avenue, his luck might be turning around.

The last time Lollapalooza was in Grant Park, back in 2019, they saw a record 2 million pedestrian impressions.

"The line would be down the alleyway and then out of it, even going around the block," Roberts said.

Historically speaking, Lollapalooza is the Loop's largest week for pedestrian traffic for the whole year.

"It will definitely help make up for the last year," Roberts said. "In an hour, I'd probably make two sales – [2020] was rough."

But as the expected surge in crowds coincides with fears of another surge in COVID cases, shops like Hero Coffee are bringing back some familiar sights.

"Most of the staff are wearing their masks again. We got more hand sanitizer out," Roberts said. "We want us to be safe, but we also want guests to be safe."

The Chicago Loop Alliance, a group representing businesses, has been trying hard to get people comfortable coming back downtown again with their Sundays on State initiative. Due to Lollapalooza, Sundays on State will not be happening this coming Sunday – but they are back on for next weekend.

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