Thursday, August 5, 2021

Oxford Merchants Prepare for Ole Miss Football Frenzy

On Friday morning the Square was eerily quiet with all the stores about to open to what will be bustling crowds by the arrival of guests and fans.

Several merchants opened early to prepare for the onrush of visitors for the first home game of the 2016 football season.

The seven home games bring tens of thousands of people to town each weekend. Each store, restaurant, hotel, and every other business have their methods to their madness. From preparing to training to excitement for the season ahead, every Oxford business has its own story.

Oxford Merchants
Numerous early morning deliveries to prepare for the first home game of the 2016 season. (Photo by Meggie Carter)

For them, the Ole Miss football season brings a lot of excitement as they have prepared all year and serves as a great test. During the home game weekends, The Graduate sees more requests from guests for transportation.

“Our location is perfect for the square but transportation to The Grove and the University is more popular during the season,” said Mike Hoover, Manager of The Graduate Oxford.

For University Floral, Judy Vatt says that tailgate arrangements are the most popular request, from a lot of red and blue flowers to fall colored flowers.

“Sales on game day are very important and people always want to come here and spend money and shop,” Vatt said.

But for University Floral, the busy game season is something they are well versed for.

“We have been in business since 1984 and we are always very, very excited!”

Gray Stanley with the Lily Pad on the Square makes sure “fan favorites” are stocked full.

“We have lots of things people like on game day, including popular food items like seasoned crackers and Captain Rodneys,” Stanley said.

The Lily Pad looks forward to the football season but also the University’s upcoming sorority recruitment noted as “bigger than Christmas.”

“The energy of the fall is always so much fun and always way more fun when it is busy, it is so nice to jump into business after the summer.”

Heather Cray Wilson, the marketing coordinator for Oxford Floral describes their preparation for game days “like a sorority girl is preparing for bid day.”

Depending on who Ole Miss is playing, the work can go into the wee hours of the morning especially during SEC games to ensure each and every arrangement their floral designers create is delivered looking elegant, unique and “Grove Worthy.”

“Our most popular items are flowers and hostess gifts. With so many fans coming to town, we wrap about 275-300 gifts including Elizabeth Heiskell’s Debutant Farmer dips, cheese straws, our Oxford Floral designed cups and McCarty Pottery.”

The excitement over each weekend extends to their entire staff as well.

Oxford Floral“Our delivery drivers will even play rock paper scissors for who gets to deliver to the skybox suites! We fit about 5 people and two designers, all holding arrangements into the Vaught-Hemingway elevators and the excitement is always filled in the air.. especially when they get the first view of the football field!”

Oxford Floral’s top 5 highest sales since 1924 have been Valentines Day, Rush Week, Football Season and Mothers day.

Good luck and Hotty Toddy to all the Oxford businesses who are working hard to make for the best 2016 Ole Miss Football Season!

By Meggie Carter. She may be reached at meggie.carter@hottytoddy.com .

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