KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL reported that 312,000 fans attended the NFL Draft in Kansas City between Thursday and Saturday. But while the NFL Draft was bustling with long lines and excitement, some Kansas City area businesses say their shops were empty.
Cafe Cà Phê, Kansas City's first Vietnamese coffee shop, located just over four miles away from the draft, said its had its slowest-ever weekend in sales since opening in August.
"As much as we loved seeing NFL fun, our shop was empty," the shop posted on Instagram. "Putting Kansas City 'on the map' is important for sure, but at what cost?"
Cafe Cà Phê said it heard from dozens of other small businesses that suffered, some over-preparing, expecting to meet a wave of tourists. It said it is thrilled for the artists and vendors who were highlighted by the event, but wished other businesses were better prioritized.
Mildred's Kansas City, another cafe with locations in the Crossroads and the Historic 9th Street District, responded to Cafe Cà Phê, and shared that while its proximity to the NFL Draft and proximity likely helped gain it some traction, the lack of local visitors resulted in a below-average three days of sales.
"We’re all pretty bummed in the lackluster results of this event," Mildred's commented.
Other businesses spoke out with similar messages. Vintage clothing store FETCH, located at 1101 Mulberry St. in Kansas City, Missouri, said despite being close to the action, it hadn't seen any.
KC Wineworks at 1829 McGee St. said it is in the same boat, and would consider closing its doors when Kansas City hosts the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
Shop Local KC said Saturday that despite having a location in Crown Center, its sales were down 44% on Thursday, up 15% Friday and down 22% at the time of making the post Saturday, compared to the same days of the previous week.
Through the disappointment and frustration, many small business who struggled during the NFL Draft, vocalized the importance of supporting one another.
"Go out and support every small business this week!" Cafe Cà Phê said. "They need extra love + encouragement."