Downtown businesses cash in off big companies for SXSW

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several local businesses are shutting down during South By Southwest to cash in on some corporate dollars, renting out their prime locations to allow big companies to transform them into SXSW hotspots.

If you’re looking for the Vince Young Steakhouse downtown you won’t be able to find it during SXSW.

Their building, at the corner of 3rd Street and San Jacinto Boulevard, has been taken over by Samsung and turned into a bloggers lounge. Samsung painted the building white and transformed the inside of the restaurant into an unrecognizable space.

Similar transformations are taking place all over downtown, and business owners say it’s an easy opportunity.

“The full buyout is great; the money is great,” said Mary Jenkins, Owner of Cenote. For the past two years Cenote has closed down during SXSW to rent out their location to Spotify for an entire week.

“It’s good as an owner,” Jenkins said. “It gives us a chance to get out of town and do our own thing for a little while. We don’t really get a chance to take time off.”

Major corporations like Spotify are known to spend as much as a half a million dollars on branding during SXSW.

“It was definitely more than what we make when we are open,” said Jenkins. “So its hard to turn that money down.”

During the 10-day festival some businesses have reported earning a month’s revenue from corporate takeovers.

For Jenkins it’s an easy decision that has helped her business on a national stage while allowing her opportunities that go far beyond SXSW.

“With last years money we were able to do some landscaping and purchase our outdoor patio,” she said.

This year Spotify will take over a different location.  Cenote has decided to do a partial buyout where they will remain open for most of the festival –
only closing a few days for private parties.

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