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Thunder of thousands " Volleyball tournament set to take over town

Judith Harlan

Retailers, restaurateurs, fast-food joints, hotels,mini-marts stock up.

The world’s largest event for women, the Volleyball Festival is due to hit town on June 24.

This will be Reno’s second year for the event, a week-long string of tournaments that brings 9,500 volleyball players aged 12-18 to Reno, plus about 10,000 parents and spectators, more than 1,200 coaches, about 200 college recruiters and a paid staff of more than 350.

That’s a lot of hungry, high-energy athletes.

“Last year, it was quite a nightmare,” says David Seeley, an experienced clerk at Raley’s deli, 4047 S.Virginia St., just across from the Reno/Sparks Convention Center.

A high-revenue nightmare.

Business at the deli counter was continuous, from 7 a.m.

to 8 p.m.,with orders still coming in at 9 p.m., closing time.”People were faxing in orders for up to 50 sandwiches at a time,” says Seeley.

Some called in the night before, some called in first thing in the morning, and some called on cell phones on their way in.

The rest stood in line at the counter.A long line.

It was a bigger week than any other, including holidays, he adds.

Taken by surprise last year, the deli,making $4,000 worth of sandwiches per day (at $5 each),wiped out the bread shelves in the store and began borrowing from other stores.

White bread, says Seeley.

That was the hot ticket.And turkey.

The deli went through 20 pounds of turkey per day or more compared to its typical four to five pounds per day.

This year, the crew is prepared.

The bread is on order, so is the turkey and extra mayo.

And salads.”We’re getting the bigger bowls out,” he says.

The rest of the town is being urged to stock up, too.

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority sent letters to restaurateurs, retailers and other businesses in the area to let them know that thousands of athletes are heading our way.

The event, currently scheduled annually through 2008 and for 2010, has already booked 40,500 room nights, says Erin Wallace, RSCVA public relations coordinator.

The agency is working pro-actively, getting the word out to businesses.

Last year, she says, one large retailer ran out of coolers.

Others reportedly ran low on sports drinks and water bottles.

Frappuccinos are big with this crowd, too, says Mark Harris, Starbuck’s store manager at 4809 Kietzke Lane.”It’s a treat for the players,” he says.

Last year, the coffee shop was overwhelmed, he adds.

This year, they’re ready with product and staff.

But it’s not just the food shops that are gearing up.Macy’s is a sponsor this year, says Sue St.

Paul, Macy’s Reno special services manager.

Last year, she says, the store did not track how many girls came to shop during volleyball week.

But store managers noticed the thunder of thousands of extra teen-aged feet through the junior apparel aisles.

This year,Macy’s is giving the volleyball participants an 11 percent discount, donating shopping bags to the coaches, advertising in the tournament programs, and running a booth at the event.

“We’re getting into it,” says St.

Paul.

The store will be adding volleyball displays nets, balls, apparel in the junior department.” That department gets a huge workout,” she adds.