The Oxford Eagle
Oxford is a small town with a limited number of bars. In order to compensate for having less bars – many, if not all of the bars, charge a cover on the weekends, and even on weekdays. But some local patrons oppose the cover charge.
“I think that the crowds in each bar would equal out without cover,” said said Danielle Alampi, a senior at the University of Mississippi. “It always seems like certain bars that do not charge cover tend to be more crowded than bars that are charging high covers or any type of cover.”
Some believe bars could increase sales if they required no cover charge. They say customers would buy more drinks if they’re able to spend less to get into the bar.
“Most people in Oxford love the bars that charge cover, but refuse to go when they do charge cover,” said Alampi. “If those bars didn’t charge cover, then those people would go to those bars, which would increase the sales. Even a $5 cover is more doable than $20.”
The highest covers tend to be on weekends, especially if there is a home football game. Many avoid going to bars they like because they do not feel the high cover is worth it.
“I usually have to avoid Rafters,” Alampi said. “It is one of my favorite bars, but you will rarely see a night where they are not charging cover. They always have some sort of live entertainment, and the cover is paying for that entertainment.”
Compared to other college towns and cities, the cover charge in Oxford tends to be higher or similar for large cities.
“For such a small town, the covers at bars definitely compare to some of the larger cities,” said Alampi. “Most cities will charge a $10 or $20 cover, and that is exactly what they charge in Oxford. I honestly think it is ridiculous considering how small the town is and how much money they are going to make that night regardless of the cover.”
The Library Sports Bar in Oxford charges a $10 cover on most regular evenings, and during game days, it can range from $20-$80.
They offer an incentive that other Oxford bars do not. This is called The Library Card. You pay a one-time fee and get a card for one to two semesters. When you present it with your ID, you do not have to pay a cover.
“I think it is a great promotional tactic and it draws people to The Library,” said Alampi. “All college students love a good deal, especially when it comes to alcohol.”
Some students and regular attendees of Oxford bars say they have not witnessed drastic increases in cover charges over the years.
“They’ve been pretty consistent since freshmen year,” said Kaylee Ragan, a senior at the University of Mississippi. “Roosters will have $20-$40 covers. Round Table has the one in, one out rule. The Corner and The Levee charge $10, and The Library has always been the same.”
Many bars promote drink specials on certain nights of the week, but a cover charge usually comes with these specials.
“I do not think that having drink specials makes up for or justifies having a cover, because a $4 vodka drink is not worth a $10 cover,” said Ragan.
In order to get rid of or reduce covers, many students have suggested the idea of only charging a cover to people who are under the age of 21.
“I think that it’s reasonable that only people younger than 21 are charged a cover, because the people over 21 are spending money on drinks in the bar, so they shouldn’t also be charged to get in,” said Ragan.
Due to frequent covers, many students are choosing to either avoid the bars entirely, or go out much earlier to avoid cover charges later in the evening.
“I have noticed that a lot of people are going to the bars earlier, usually getting there at 8:30 p.m. to avoid the covers,” said Zach Armstrong, a student and resident of Oxford. “My friends and I tend to do this all the time, especially on Fridays and Saturdays.”
Covers have proven to affect the bar scene in Oxford by starting new trends of when and where to go for many, but have not changed the ways and minds of all who attend the bars.
“Covers are annoying,” said Armstrong, “and I hate having to pay them, but I understand when there is live entertainment why a cover is charged, and if I like a bar enough I will still continue to pay to get in.”