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Pokemon Go Craze Drives Local Economy

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For just over two weeks, the mobile app “Pokemon Go” has been driving children and adults out of their homes and into the streets.

Some Gainesville residents and businesses have been taking advantage of the augmented reality game craze to make a little extra money.

A week ago, Gainesville couple Alexander Graham and Courtney Doyle, posted an ad on Craigslist to find people who would be interested in being driven around town to play the game. They’re asking for $15 per person for an hour of drive time. The back of their car is set up with chargers and water for riders.

The couple is planning on using the money earned from the service to pay for their wedding.

Both had been fans of the game since childhood, and had spent days driving around town to different locations to catch the virtual monsters. After a short time, they began to notice that locations around town and on the University of Florida campus that had many Pokestops were beginning to attract hundreds of people for anywhere from 30-minutes-to-several-hours, Doyle said. The plan was to make a little extra money while doing something they enjoyed doing.

One of the reasons players go to certain stops over others is the use of lure modules, which attract more Pokemon in the game. Although lures can be found through normal game play, they can be bought through micro-transactions, Doyle said. Players then put these lures on individual stops. Hundreds of players will specifically seek out these spots over ones that may be closer to their location.

“The lures, instead of attracting Pokemon, which they do, are also attracting people,” she said. “Which is fantastic.”

Other local businesses are taking advantage of players walking the streets. Elixir Lounge Smoothie and Juice Bar in downtown Gainesville is offering deals to players. Lawrence Clay, the owner of Elixir, said when he opened the bar, the first thing he noticed was hundreds of people sitting outside on their phones.

If a player puts a lure on the stop that’s located at Elixir, players will get a deal on beer and smoothies. For the nearly two weeks the deal has been running, players of the game account for 75 percent of his business, Clay said.

“If it weren’t for Pokemon I’d be closed,” he said. “It’s dragging these nerds who’d usually be introverted off their couches and into the marketplace.”

There are many businesses in Gainesville that are currently hosting promotions for players of the game, including Olive Garden, R.U. Game? and Red Robin.

Escape 2 Vape is currently hosting team nights three nights a week. The game has three primary teams that players can choose in-game to join: Valor, Mystic and Instinct.

On the team night, players who identify with one of the three teams are invited to come for raffles and giveaways, with each team night alternating between the three teams, Sharon Raymond, manager, said. The business has seen a significant increase in profits since hosting sales and events for the game. Players are attracted to the location of the shop since there is a Pokemon gym just steps away.

The Florida Museum of Natural History is also getting in on the action.

Over the summer, the museum has been running their Creative B program, which plays movies every Friday. Last Friday, the museum hosted a Pokemon Lure event that attracted over 1,000 people, Paul Ramey, museum media relations, said. They’re planning on doing it every Friday for the rest of July.

About Jasmine Wildflower Osmond

Jasmine is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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