Nova Scotia

Halifax businesses cashing in on Pokemon Go

A number of local shops and restaurants say they're getting more customers as a result of the app.

A number of local shops and restaurants say they're getting more customers as a result of the app

The Pokemon Go online craze has gamers walking on a virtual hunt. (Laura DaSilva/CBC)

Now that Canadians can download the Pokemon Go app, the Pokemon pandemonium is on as thousands of fans pursue mythical monsters in the hot augmented reality game.

Halifax small businesses are embracing the influx of people out hunting for Pokemon, because fans are spending money.  

The free location-based game, based on the popular franchise that started in the mid 1990s, sends players into the real world, trying to catch mythical monsters that appear on their mobile device screens.

Buying snacks

The Ball family of four made the trek from Hammonds Plains into the city specifically to go Pokemon hunting.  

Joshua Ball quickly found six. His mother, Sherry — admitting she might be the most addicted to the game — sees the financial benefit for local business. 

"Oh yes, we'll probably buy ice cream and have a coffee," she said.

More customers

The Heartwood restaurant reports seeing more people come into the restaurant as a result of the app. (CBC)

Scott Boudeau of Heartwood Bakery Cafe says he's seen an increase in customers equal to five or six tables. 

"It's been great so far," he said.  

New ways of luring customers

Josh Carter, owner of The Deck Box, says the app gives people an incentive to explore. (CBC)

At the collectible card game store The Deck Box, owner Josh Carter is looking at spending some money to lure even more customers in. 

Buying a lure or incense can bring Pokemon hunters into his store. A lure, which brings Pokemon around your business for 30 minutes, costs 80 Pokemon coins, which sell for $1.39 for 100. 

​His store hosts a weekly Halifax Pokemon League, playing the old-fashioned way with cards, but he's thinking this could be an inexpensive way to bring Pokemon hunters into his store.

'Minimal cost for your business'

"It gives people an incentive to come by and it's a minimal cost for your business," Carter said.  

"A lot of my friends, who are also business owners, are seeing how they can integrate it. It's not a fit for all, but it's especially good for food businesses and people who are on the back streets of Halifax."  

So far, he said even without the lure, he's seen enough foot traffic on Quinpool Road with people stopping in for Pokemon cards.

T-shirts selling out

Other businesses are asking to become PokeStops, another way to attract players, said Tasha Tonks, manager of Rock Candy, a downtown clothing store, 

"We put the sign [outside] to say, 'Totally, come on in,' and we've had a bunch of new people we've never seen before," she said.

"It's been amazing, getting people downtown. The foot traffic is moving."

Rock Candy even sells Pokemon T-shirts — and the shop has needed to order more.

Pokemon T-shirts are selling out at downtown's Rock Candy clothing store, manager Tasha Tonks says. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

'Ride the wave'

This is all welcome news, said Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission.

"We'll ride the wave," he said. "Anything that gets people up off their couches and downtown is a great thing, so there's good synergy here."

About the Author

World champion curler Colleen Jones has been reporting with CBC News for nearly three decades. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleenjones.