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Crown Center shop owner made $32 on day 1 of NFL Draft, wants city to embrace local access for future events

Posted at 9:33 PM, May 01, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Monday, the NFL Draft site looked a whole lot different than it did last week, when hordes of people walked up Grand Avenue in Kansas City to get to the event.

According to the NFL, about 312,000 were in attendance, many who walked by the entrance of Crown Center.

But between $50 garage parking and the event, shop owners at Crown Center say they didn’t see the crowds.

“Being right there we should have expected more, I think it should have been different,” said Stephanie Herbig, owner of the Cheeky Bird. "Whether it’s the Irish Fest or Boulevardia, I really had a great experience — a lot of visitors come inside to the store to see what’s going on.”

Her shop is inside Crown Center, a hub at the NFL Draft site.

Herbig said she was hoping for a shopping rush, but that didn’t happen.

“It was a ghost town in there more so than I’d ever seen it,” Herbig said.

Herbig says she’s enjoyed her nearly two years inside Crown Center.

“I love being at Crown Center, I feel honored to be there,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place to be, you feel like a true part of KC culture being there. It’s a jewel of the city. I think it’s a really great opportunity for those of us who know Crown Center as a tradition, a gem, to see it as something in our weekly lives, to go and check out.”

Two weeks ago, KSHB 41 News spoke with Crown Center shop employees about what they were hoping to see during the NFL Draft.

“We just hope like I said for as much business as possible,” Samantha Hutsell said at the time.

But that wasn't Herbig’s reality last weekend.

“It was very bare," she said. "I took pictures of the halls — it was just really empty.”

In total, Herbig said she made $32 on day one of the NFL Draft, which saw the most visitors during the three day event.

“I was a little sick to my stomach, ya know, I have no problem saying out loud I made $32 on Thursday,” she said. “That was my sales for Thursday, that’s it. Not even close to what it should have been."

Her shop and many others extended hours.

“Initially we were going to do a 12-hour day, but after the first day, it was clear that wouldn’t be necessary,” Herbig said. “I feel like the $50 price tag was a little tricky for our locals to come to hang out with us — it caused issues.”

KSHB 41 asked Crown Center management for further comment on the lack of traffic during the draft and if they measured attendance — they didn’t.

They said they extended hours, promoted specials and tried to help pull people in with activities.

KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas said he’s aware of the frustration of small businesses and says the feedback doesn’t negate the hard work or success of others, but wants to spread it out.

“I plan to meet soon with a number of businesses that were impacted and see how we can make sure that we have everyone involved and engaged, particularly as we plan for the world cup in 2026,” Lucas said.