They come for Warren Buffett and leave with jewelry, furniture and more.
This year, about 40,000 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders are expected to descend upon Omaha, Nebraska, for the company's annual shareholders meeting, and in the process provide a significant "Buffett bounce" to area businesses.
At Gorat's Steak House, waiters will serve about a month's worth of food in three days (and about two month's worth of wine), said Gene Dunn, its owner.
Typically during the event, Gorat's sells more than 1,000 T-bone steaks, one component of the traditional "Warren meal" at the restaurant, and more than 2,000 baked potatoes.
"This year, our bookings came quicker than usual, and we were pretty much fully booked by the beginning of April," he said.
To prepare, Gorat's has added a large tent for people to wait before their tables are ready. It also hired a translator to accommodate Chinese shareholders—a first for the restaurant.
For Berkshire-owned businesses, the event's exhibit hall turns into a mini-mall where shareholders can snap up souvenirs. Many area businesses will also hold special events and extend hours to keep up with surging demand.
At Berkshire-owned Nebraska Furniture Mart, the week of the meeting has sparked as much as $44 million in sales as locals and out-of-towners use the shareholder discount to get good deals.
At the company's Omaha location, "it's one of our biggest weeks beside Black Friday," said Rebecca Ritterbush, its marketing manager.
"It's an all hands-on-deck approach," she added.
Meanwhile, at Berkshire-owned jeweler Borsheims, employees process a credit-card transaction every 11 seconds as stockholders splurge. Last year, more than 27,000 people visited the company, which served shoppers 25,000 meatballs and 9,000 squares of quiche during events.
This Borsheims yellow diamond ring could be yours for $4.6 million.
"We call this our Christmas in May. It's as significant as the holiday selling season," said Adrienne Fay, Borsheims' director of marketing and business sales.
Engagement rings are the most commonly bought items during the weekend.
"I think for some people who are really passionate about Mr. Buffett, it becomes symbolic to them," she said about the rings. Some diamonds for the rings even come engraved with the Oracle of Omaha's signature.
Others are just waiting to snag a discount on a relatively expensive purchase. The discounts can be steep—such as a 56 ct. yellow diamond for $4.6 million, down from its retail price of $6.2 million.
But for Borsheims, the sales are just the tip of the iceberg. The real prize is the potential to gain a loyal customer.
"It can be as significant as a lifelong relationship," Fay said, adding that about 46 percent of customers live outside of Nebraska.