Pokemon Go Drums up Local Business

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In case you haven’t noticed, Pokemon GO is huge. The exploration-encouraging app has attracted millions of users around the world. The numbers aren’t in on how many users the app has hooked, but there’s no doubt that Pokemon is a global sensation.

Go to any mall or area designed for foot traffic and there will be droves of Pokemon trainers in all shapes and sizes, with their eyes glued to their cellphones.

Users need to walk around to catch Pokemon in the mobile app, hatch eggs and collect items from the game’s “Pokestops,” real locations marked on the game’s map. These locations are usually landmarks and businesses, and the ASU Tempe campus is flooded with them. Establishments listed as Pokestops, or are near Pokestops, have seen an increase in business or change in clientele.

“Business has definitely gone up,” says Keith Correa, general manager of the Mellow Mushroom on Mill Avenue in Tempe. “There’s a Pokestop inside the restaurant and there are several nearby. There’s been way more people walking around outside too.”

Users of the app can sit inside restaurants with Pokestops and use the virtual stops throughout their meal. Having a stop within range of a restaurant could influence where users eat.

Not all businesses are having the same luck, however, and it could be because ASU is so saturated with Pokestops.

“It’s hard to say if we’ve had a spike in sales, we’ve been pretty consistent,” says Brian Becker, general manager of Chompie’s on University Drive in Tempe. “There’s a Pokestop right behind Chompie’s, and I think people are coming in to look for it. There’s been more students in, but I’m not sure if it’s really increased business. It’s a hard week to compare.”

ASU is swimming in Pokestops, and users can find several in every direction they walk in. People walking around in the heat may duck into a restaurant for a bite and some A/C, but the increase in foot traffic could be negligible because of the saturation of Pokestops.

Businesses have complained to the app’s developer, Niantic, about Pokestops bringing people to businesses to just walk around and look for Pokemon, rather than buying something.

“The app will probably fall off, but anything to promote the business is good,” Correa says.

Niantic has announced that users can apply to create new Pokestops. Business owners can apply to be removed from the game.

“People are having a good time, and I don’t see a problem with that,” Correa says.

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