Local businesses with pop-ups at the NFL draft were the lucky ones, relishing the exposure and serving thousands, but those that didn’t make the cut experienced a painfully slow weekend.
By most accounts the event was considered an overall success with the three-day event drawing a crowd of more than three-hundred ten-thousand, according to FOX4. The football festival showcased top names in the KC food scene, from Chef J BBQ and Q39 to Taco Naco and Buck Tui.
Despite the crowds, local businesses not apart of the draft experienced an overall loss in sales and foot traffic. Those shops and restaurants took to social media voicing concern over the lower than expected customer turnout.
Fetch, a local lifestyle store located in the West Bottoms, made a viral Instagram reel that read “Local KC businesses are not benefiting from the Draft – go see your favorites this weekend, we need you! Shop, eat, drink local.”
“Down fifty percent from a normal business Saturday for sure. Hate to see small biz suffer. Hang in there!” Commented West Bottoms-based business Amigoni Urban Winery.
Not even the usual weekend hotspots in Westport and the Crossroads were immune to the shortage of patrons during peak hours. Mean Mule Distilling Co., a bustling spot for locals in the Crossroads, commented under the post “Honestly, it’s been so frustrating. It’s not been a good experience for us.”
Several shop owners reported they suffered even before the NFL Draft weekend due to road closures. Many also contributed the lack of business to locals staying away to avoid crowds, although they say there were none.
It seems local business owners are feeling slighted because they were encouraged by organizers to prepare for the weekend by being fully stocked and staffed. Some are already thinking about 2026 when KC will host another massive event, the soccer World Cup.
Here’s what small local businesses are calling for post draft weekend: shop local.
An Instagram post by local business Café Cà Phê questioned the cost of “putting Kansas city on the map.”
“Putting Kansas City “on the map” is important for sure, but at what cost? The literal folks who keep the city going, the restaurants, the shops, the people who LIVE and WORK here gotta be prioritized,” posted the Vietnamese coffee shop. “But how do we make sure what makes KC so damn unique stays that way? Community. Small business. The people.”