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Winter graduations impact Columbia businesses

Saturday, thousands of students in Columbia graduated from the University of Missouri and Columbia College.

MU said it awarded more than 2,500 degrees this weekend. Its graduation ceremonies started Friday afternoon and continue through Sunday morning.

And Columbia College said it gave degrees to more than 325 students.

Each semester, the two schools’ graduations bring in thousands of visitors from out of town. Many businesses in downtown Columbia said the extra crowds in town for the weekend increased sales.

The Tiger Hotel said the rooms were booked full Friday night. Jim Wohl, the hotel’s Director of Operations said Glen’s Cafe, the Velvet Cupcake and the Vault were busier than a normal weekend for this time of year.

“We’ve had a very busy couple of days,” Wohl said. “People started checking into the hotel Thursday night, had a very busy night last night. Today’s been just as busy.”

Down the street, Craft Beer Cellar opened its doors in downtown Columbia Thursday. Employee Jonathan Steffens said Saturday was especially busy.

“This is our first three days open in downtown Columbia,” Steffens said. “And we were amped to be here for graduation as having all the great grads coming in. We had a couple grad parties coming in after the J-School graduation yesterday. And we’re looking forward to our first Saturday sales before Christmas.”

Retailers also said they had a boost in sales this weekend.

“It’s been pretty steady,” Jennifer Pestle with Cha Boutiquesaid. “The traffic’s been a little bit different, usually it’s just students, but a lot of it is students and parents or family members of students so lots of out-of-towners which has been really nice.”

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