Platteville merchants welcome new UWP students

August 28, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - As thousands of students arrive on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus in anticipation of the fall semester's start, local merchants are making sure new students feel more than welcome.

One of the most popular events during new student orientation at UWP the last few years has been the Discover Downtown scavenger hunt sponsored by the Platteville Main Street Program, the Platteville Chamber of Commerce and by local businesses. Organizers expect this year's scavenger hunt Sat., Aug. 30 to be bigger than ever.

"It's really an event downtown," Executive Director of the Platteville Chamber of Commerce Kathy Kopp said. "Five hundred students taking off on a run to do this scavenger hunt - it stops traffic."

The event kicks off with a picnic in City Park at 12 noon. Campus radio station 91FM WSUP will provide music and students will be able to use their meal plans to purchase a picnic lunch served by Dining Services, UWP Leadership Development Coordinator David Nevins said.

Participating students will also receive a bag full of goodies such as coupons and small gifts from area businesses, Platteville Main Street Program Manger Cheryl Zmina said.

The scavenger hunt begins at 1 p.m. Students will be given a game piece and will scurry around the downtown area attempting to get their card completed by visiting local businesses. No purchase is necessary.

"It's basically a game to help get students into the businesses," Kopp said. "It really helps them get to know the Platteville business community."

Businesses that aren't in walking distance from City Park are given an opportunity to participate, too, and can set up a table at the park. All completed game cards will be entered into a drawing for door prizes.

"Lots of our businesses donate door prizes. We give away dozens and dozens and dozens," Kopp said. Prizes range from additional coupons and discounts to much larger grand prizes.

Those who don't win the big prizes won't despair, however, as a number of local pizza restaurants will show up at 2 p.m. to offer students a taste of the different varieties of the Italian pie offered in Platteville.

Organizers don't know exactly how many businesses will participate in the Discover Downtown event this year but expected it to be about the same as last year when 37 businesses joined in the effort.

"We're pretty much right on target with what we had last year," Zmina said.

This is the fourth year for the Discover Downtown event and it has been growing in popularity ever since it began.

"It's has really taken off. Some of our businesses really look forward to this event just so they can meet students. It's always a lot of fun," Kopp said.

And it has become a popular event for students as well. The event drew 150 students in its first year while more than 500 showed up last year.

"We're planning a minimum of 500 this year, but we could be very pleasantly surprised to have more than that," Kopp said.

Returning students may notice a couple different changes on Main Street. Badger Brothers Coffee and Internet Café, which opened in April, offers coffee, ice cream and Internet access. Los Amigos Mexican restaurant, located where Main Street Beefs used to be, offers authentic Mexican cuisine. Netux Solutions, operated by current and former UWP students, offers computer products and electronics.

"When we did our market analysis, an electronics store was one thing students identified as wanting on Main Street," Zmina said.

Of course, businesses like Momentum Bikes and Boards and Downtown Discs continue to be Main Street favorites among college students. Some Main Street business offer discounts ranging from 5 to 15 percent for UWP students, Zmina said. UWP students receive a Main Street discount card from the University when they receive their student IDs.

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