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Super Bowl windfall falls short for small downtown Phoenix businesses

PHOENIX — This time last year, the Super Bowl Host Committee boasted Arizona’s economy would see a $600 million windfall once the NFL passed through.

The numbers are still being crunched, but some small businesses that sat on the perimeter of Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix are looking no further than their cash registers for proof.

Inside the ice cream store Melt, just four blocks from where the Super Bowl party hot spot, Pablo Sapien passed out a stack of promo stickers.

A girl happily took one of the pink and white stickers, originally ordered for the expected horde of Super Bowl fans.

“We actually bought a golf cart two days before to pick up people from the NFL Experience and bring them down to Fifth Street,” Sapien said.

But, as he looked back four days after the revelry ended and the totals were tallied he said, “Business was higher, but it wasn’t what we expected.”

Across Fifth Street south of Roosevelt Street, Miguel Torres at the Lawn Gnome bookstore, echoed that assessment.

The independent store is home to vintage and hard-to-find books.

“…it just didn’t span out as far as what everyone imagined what it would,” Torres said.

Kristen Wilson with Arizona Small Business Association was not surprised to hear small businesses still struggled despite the nearby NFL block party.

“It’s about marketing, it’s about promotion,” she said.

“If they’re two or three blocks away, they may not have had the resources to capitalize on tagging along with whole NFL messaging.”

Two days of solid rain did not help, either, said Cindy Dach, who owns Made Art Boutique on the corner of Roosevelt and Fifth streets.

Rather than focus on the football fans who likely would not have shopped at her store if she was inside the party perimeter, she chose to focus on the national media attention from two very favorable newspaper stories.

“The Boston Globe and the New York Times … said we were basically an authentic walkable area and gem and this is where Phoenicians hang out,” Dach said.

That could be a boon for Sapien and his surplus of handspun ice cream.

“Well, the good news is this weekend is First Friday,” he said.