Local businesses cashing in on Pokemon Go

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Lincoln, NE (KOLN) -- Several weeks after its release, Pokemon Go continues to be a sensation that's sweeping the globe with thousands of players hitting the streets searching for Pokemon. Anytime anything gets this popular, it's a sure bet that businesses will try and cash in on it -- and that's certainly the case with Pokemon Go.

"I think a lot of businesses are starting to see that they can integrate this into an overall marketing campaign whether they're a retail business like a bar or a care or a restaurant or they're a more traditional, old, established business," said Ben Pankonin, CEO of Social Assurance.

Businesses here in Lincoln are certainly integrating the game into their business plan -- the Tavern at the Square almost always has a lure set out at the Poke-stops near the Tavern.

Poke-stops are designated areas where players can stock up on resources for the game, including pokeballs and potions. Lures are modules that help attract rare or difficult to catch Pokemon to the poke-stop. It's a sure bet that if there's a lure out, crowds of Pokemon players will follow.

"It creates traffic," said Matt Taylor, owner of the Tavern at the Square. "I think the big winners of this, obviously Nintendo is a big winner of this, but small businesses are the secondary winner."

Taylor says that after the game released, the bar had a huge spike in business. He spent the next day looking at the numbers and realized that he needed to learn as much as he could about Pokemon.

"I've spent $16 this week and we've seen a 30% increase in sales," said Taylor.

The big draw on lures is that they're a cheap way to get people in the door. Inc. Magazine estimates that it only costs businesses $1.20 per hour to set out the lures to draw people into the store, an incredible return on your investment.

Banhwich Cafe on 27th and Vine Street is also working on attracting Poke-players. The cafe doesn't have a Poke-stop to set out a lure to attract players, but the cafe is a designated Pokemon Gym -- where players can battle other players.

"It's beneficial for both the businesses and the game and the for the players it gets them out and about where they maybe normally wouldn't be going," said Rumil Bautista, the store manager of Banhwich.

Bautista says the store's owner is offering a $50 gift card to whoever the leader of the gym is by the end of the month.

"I think that's something the people with Poke-stops can't do, you know they can do all these lures, lure modules for happy hour or something like that, but since we're a gym, we can't offer lures, but we can offer something like this," said Bautista.

Now for business owners, the big question that remains is how much to invest in Pokemon Go. Owners need to determine whether this game is a flashy trend that will slowly go away, or whether Pokemon Go is here to stay. Either way though, the game has been a boom for local businesses.

"We've always been a regular bar and now we get tons of fresh eyeballs and fresh bodies that didn't know we existed before that came down here because of Pokemon and what I like to think is that they enjoyed their time here and they'll come back," said Matt Taylor.