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NCAA Tournament helps local businesses

Two customers at Mr. Smith's Sports Bar and Grill in Medford order lunch while watching NCAA Tournament games on one of the TVs at the bar. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Jackson County, Ore. - For RedZone Sports Bar manager Austin Loreman, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is his "favorite time of year."

Customers can find any of the tournament games on TVs at the bar - each one labeled with what channel is on. Loreman says March is even better than the Super Bowl.

"Most people stay home for the Super Bowl, but having multiple games on at the same time, it's a huge draw for us," Loreman says.

Loreman also says with games lasting all day, customers come in all day to watch their teams.

"Especially on the Thursday-Friday, it's like a revolving door," Loreman says. "People come when they can on lunches."

Whenever a particularly good game comes on, Loreman says he gets even more customers.

The same is true at Mr. Smith's Sports Bar and Grill in Medford.

"[Customers] come and stay for awhile," manager Billie Higginbotham said. "We've got a lot of regulars that come in, you know, have their own little brackets they fill out."

Higginbotham says she enjoys March Madness more than the Super Bowl as well.

"Just a lot more excitement, I mean the Super Bowl is fun, there's a lot of hype getting up to the Super Bowl, but it seems like March Madness ... everybody forgets about it until it starts," Higginbotham says.

For both managers, they say keeping their staff on task and serving customers is actually not too difficult.

"It's the same as any other game, a busy [University of Oregon] Ducks game, [a Southern Oregon University] game," Loreman says. "It's still 'You're here to do a job,' you know, glance up when you can but make sure customers are taken care of."

"They're pretty good about it, but when there's exciting stuff going on it's like everything comes to a stop," Higginbotham says. "They're really considerate, you know, the customers are great. They want the employees to be in the excitement with them as well."

Sports bars are not the only ones getting into the tournament though. Simply Stylish Salon also is taking advantage and giving customers a deal on pedicures.

"I'm getting a pedicure for the March Madness," Nancy Brockman, a customer, said. "I like to spoil myself and at my age, I figure I deserve it."

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