Local stores profit from Homecoming rush

Spring Street commerce enjoyed a boost this weekend when the population of Williamstown almost tripled. According to Sports Information, more than 12,000 fans passed through the Weston Field gates for the Homecoming festivities, and many found their way to shops and restaurants in Williamstown that are normally pit stops for meandering College students.

Edward Smith, owner of the Red Herring on Spring Street, said that Homecoming Saturday is by far the biggest single day for business during the year. “This one was greater than others,” Smith said. “[The ESPN broadcast] really helped, and it’s always better when you have Amherst here.”

In preparation for the big weekend, Smith bought extra inventory and put additional staff on duty. He said that alums coming to the bar were his main customers, but added that he got business from a broad cross-section of Homecoming revelers.

Michele Gietz, co-owner of Where’d You Get That?!, expressed excitement that her store had become an integral part of the Homecoming experience. “We’re the source for all that crazy Williams stuff people wear,” Gietz said. “Most of the wigs, makeup, masks and other purple and gold stuff you saw people with came from our store.”

Where’d You Get That?! also supplied many of the balloons and decorations for the tailgates. “I love being on the fringes of Homecoming,” Gietz said. “I love talking to all the football moms and getting involved.” She added that the ESPN broadcast was an extra bonus, because she got to see all of her products on national television.

Nancy Thomas, co-owner of Mezze Bar & Bistro on Water Street, said that the weekend was excellent for her establishment, if slightly challenging. “We didn’t really have to do anything different,” Thomas said. “We just did a lot more business than usual. We were filled to capacity both nights.”

Thomas said that this Homecoming weekend’s effect on her business was similar to that of Homecomings in past years, and also likened it to Family Days. “If it weren’t for weekends like these, or Williams in general, we probably wouldn’t be in business,” she said.

As part of the Homecoming festivities this weekend, Mezze played host to a party on Saturday night. The party was intended for a smaller number of students, but due to a communication mix-up it was announced to the entire student body. Thus, many more students showed up than expected, leading to extremely long lines and several underage students being turned away at the door.

Opinions amongst those who actually got into the party were mixed. “The party was good and picking up speed to the point Mezze closed,” said Sebastian Shterental ’08. Ana Pacheco-Navarro ’08 said that while she was not disappointed, the party “wasn’t good enough to justify the hour I spent waiting outside trying to get in.”

“It never felt out of control,” Pacheco-Navarro said. “For the time I was there, it was significantly calmer and less-crowded than the majority of Williams parties.”

Bruce Goff ’83, owner of perennial Homecoming favorite Goff’s Sports, could not be reached for comment.