Pokémon Go Is Good Business for Small Businesses

Jul 12, 2016

Pokémon Go users gotta catch 'em all—and small businesses are taking advantage of their obsession with the viral smartphone game.

The augmented reality app, which soared to the top of download charts over the weekend, uses location tracking and cameras to help users capture animalistic characters from Pokémon, the Japanese cartoon franchise. It's sent users wandering into the streets and parks in search of Squirtles and Blastoises to add to their Pokédex.

The app has also caused ambitious trainers to seek out their local pizzeria or coffee shop, many of which have been designated as Pokéstops where players can replenish on supplies, or as gyms, where they can train characters for battle.

Pokémon Go has created a huge opportunity for local businesses, and they're already capitalizing on the app's wild popularity. Some businesses are paying the app a $10 daily fee to purchases lures, or items that attract users, for their store to drive foot traffic. At L'iniozio, a pizzeria in Long Island City, Queens, the manager paid to lure a dozen Pokémon characters into his establishment. The restaurant's manager, Sean Benedetti, told the New York Post that the shop's business spiked by 75% over the past few days.

Read More: You're Playing 'Pokémon Go' at the Office. Is Your Boss About to Get Mad?

"We had people come down, sit down and get a couple beers and play the Pokémon game," Benedetti told the Post.

Other businesses are offering discounts or other promotions to Pokémon Go users. A hotel bar in Grand Rapids, Mich. is giving a 10% discount off the tab of app users affiliated with Team Mystic. A coffee shop in San Francisco promises to drop a lure (to attract more Pokémon to the area) for every 15 drinks purchased at the store. In Sydney, Australia, a high-end Chinese restaurant will activate its Lure Model each day at lunch and dinner times, Business Insider reported.

Many of restaurants, like sandwich shop Mambos Cafe in Glendale, Calif., are advertising their Pokémon offerings on the street to attract wandering trainers:

Even my local rice and beans joint has been invaded... #pokemon

A post shared by Rebecca Keegan (@that_rebecca) on

However, some businesses—perhaps annoyed by the number of unpaid customers that the app brings through their doors–are not reacting as positively to the rise of Pokémon Go. One restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky put up a "No Pokémon Go" sign in response to intrusive trainers.

"We had somebody try to walk in the kitchen," staffer Megan Martin told local news station WKYT. "We've had people standing right in front of people eating and in places that really are making it difficult for us to get through."

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