Small businesses looking to cash in on Pokemon Go craze

- The Pokémon Go craze is not going away anytime soon and that is how some local businesses like it. The popular augmented reality game that rolled out in smartphone app stores last week has businesses trying to find ways to benefit.

“It's no secret that it could be very useful for businesses,” said Betsy Page Sigman, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “I immediately thought that Pokémon could sell ads on it. It may not need to. It may be able to make money in other ways.”

Politics and Prose, a bookstore and coffeehouse in Northwest D.C., is a bit of a hotspot for Pokémon Go players.

“We are on the same block as Politics and Prose, which is a Pokémon gym,” said Bryce Reh, general manager of Comet Ping Pong, which is located nearby the bookstore. “They are marketing and us at Comet are trying to kind of make it a bigger thing and saying, ‘Hey, if you are playing this game, this is a notable place to come to.’”

The online world is increasing foot traffic in neighborhoods that have what is called a Pokémon stop. Right behind Politics and Prose and Comet Ping Pong is a hidden gem for Pokémon players – a children's mural.

“It's nice for us to get people thinking, ‘Oh, I can go over here, and on top of buying a book at the bookstore and grabbing myself a delicious pizza at Comet, I can also catch rare Pokémon,’” said Reh.

So how can you become a Pokémon stop? That is the big question that is still awaiting an answer from Niantic Labs, the developer of the game.

Right now, the locations are predetermined by the developer. But with businesses determined to get a piece of the Pokémon pie, it could be a moneymaker in many ways.

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