PASADENA, Calif. -- As the grandstands go up on Pasadena's world famous streets, there's a sense that local business earnings will slip, fueling a sense of malaise among some merchants along the Tournament of Roses Parade route this year.
"It's probably one of the best opportunities for us to make money, when people are from out-of-town," said Ray De La Torre, who runs Jake's Cafe and Billiards, a landmark on Colorado Boulevard with front row seats to the event.
But even visitors from Pennsylvania, here to cheer the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl game against USC, are keeping their wallets closed this year. De La Torre says he expects "at least a 20 to 30 percent drop in sales from previous years."
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Jeff Kistler is visiting from Pittsburgh with his wife, Marguerite. He said he even considered calling the trip off altogether were it not for his daughter and son-in-law, who have a home in Los Angeles.
The Kistlers are staying with them in lieu of a pricey hotel room.
Kyle Shollenberger of Bethlehem, Pa., pointed out that he's here on a college student's budget, about $200.
In Los Angeles, he said he can afford to buy "water bottles. That's about it."
Marc Dambrosia operates a tiny souvenir shop on Colorado Boulevard, offering everything from sweatshirts to scarves and programs, all emblazoned with Penn State or USC logos. He says, traditionally, locals don't buy as much because they tend to already possess such items from previous games and seasons. Out-of-towners are usually his biggest customers, desperate for anything that demonstrates support for the home team.
Not this year, though.
"Sales are down at least 20 percent," he said. "Fifteen to 20 percent."