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Avoiding the Crush : Series Offers Good Chance to Shop and Dine

Times Staff Writer

The world doesn’t exactly stop when the World Series is on, but it does slow down a bit.

Unless you’re a died-in-the-blue Dodger fan, Tuesday and Wednesday nights were great times to shop, dine out, work out at the gym or even just zip down the freeway during the afternoon rush hour.

“Yes, it is slow here because of the World Series,” said Andy Berry, manager of a virtually deserted Federated Store in Santa Ana. The consolation to having to work such a slow night, however, was never missing a minute of the game. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics were visible at every turn from televisions throughout the electronics store, and instead of music, the play-by-play was piped over the store’s sound system.

With the game starting at 5:30, fans rushed home to their television sets rather than to restaurants, stores and health clubs.

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Seating was readily available at restaurants without television. “We’ve definitely had a decrease in business,” said Rich Wanket, a manager at the Soup Exchange in Irvine, where the dinner hour usually finds long lines at the soup-and-salad bar.

Tuesday night, he said, “we were down $2,000 over what we normally do.” That meant a lot of leftover spinach leaves and chili, so Wednesday night “we geared down. . . . Until this is over, we’ll be careful what we schedule and make.”

That was not the case, however, Wednesday night at the Red Onion in Santa Ana. Three huge suspended television screens, about half a dozen smaller televisions and tables full of nachos attracted a standing-room-only crowd that cheered on the almost-local team.

At some markets, game time was a good time to stock the pantry. Pat DiMeglio, assistant manager of the Boys Market in Santa Ana, said there were about a third fewer shoppers Tuesday night during game time, and it was a quick trip to the checkout early Wednesday evening, too.

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“We’re selling lots of chips, beer and salsa prior to the games, a lot of small orders,” DiMeglio said.

But the Vons in Irvine saw no such predictable dip in shoppers, at least in female shoppers.

“During the last few games, they’ve still been coming in,” said Bob Bingenheimer, assistant manager. “You do notice a lot more ladies in the store than men, though. Normally, you’d see a lot more men.”

Ken Geerston, night manager of Lucky in Santa Ana, noticed the change in customers, too. Dodger fans “must have sent the wives down,” he said.

Observers said there appeared to be a slight decrease in traffic during game time. The California Highway Patrol reported that traffic on the Riverside Freeway was lighter than usual Tuesday night.

Candidates battling in city council elections can be intriguing, but as entertaining as the duel between the Dodgers and the A’s? A Costa Mesa candidates’ forum drew about 35 people Tuesday when the World Series was on. Roger Bloom, moderator and Costa Mesa News editor, said he was not disappointed in the turnout but noted: “If there wasn’t a World Series game, we would have had more.”

Night classes at UC Irvine also suffered a bit by the competition with the ballgame.


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