Downtown Kent prepares for Homecoming weekend

Brittany Hill

Homecoming Weekend is almost here, and several of Kent’s downtown businesses are scrambling to open, get set up or get stocked for the busy weekend.

“It was a big priority to get opened by Homecoming Weekend,” said Cindy Weaver, manager of the new boutique Gracylane.

Thursday afternoon, Weaver and her staff were busy stocking shelves. Weaver said at this point the shop is on schedule to open up Friday, just in time for all of the festivities.

“We were hoping there would be a lot of people downtown, especially alumni who are curious to see all the changes and updates to the downtown area,” Weaver said. “I think they’ll be excited, especially because their football team is doing so well.”

She said the shop also will run a special promotional deal Saturday in honor of homecoming weekend. Customers who spend $25 or more on Vera Bradley merchandise will get a free Vera Bradley coin purse.

Downtown T-shirt shop UniversiTees opened Sept. 25 in time for Family Weekend, Sept. 28 to Sept. 30, but they’re still working hard to prepare for Homecoming. The staff spent Thursday evening filling the shelves with additional stock so there are plenty of shirts for students and alumni who want to take advantage of UniversiTees’ permanent buy-one-get-one deal.

In addition, this weekend the store began passing out coupons for $5.00 off of a purchase of $19.99 or more and also plans to have extended hours to accommodate customers Friday and Saturday.

Not all downtown shops will be ready for the weekend. Jim Hall, head of construction for Dave’s Cosmic Subs, said the sub shop is still a few inspections away from being ready to open. Hall said the shop originally planned to open at the beginning of the semester in time for the season’s first football game, but “the building wasn’t far enough along when we moved in,” he said.

Hall said the building definitely will not be done by this weekend, which he imagines the shop owners are disappointed about. However, he anticipates the shop’s opening as early as next weekend.

Downtown construction efforts have not been under as much pressure to get ready for the weekend. One Lincoln Street construction worker assisting with the Esplanade construction said he did receive an order to make sure the green construction fence was in good order by this weekend after the wind had created some damage, but that was completed Thursday afternoon and no additional orders were given.

Kent Superintendent of Engineering Jim Bowling said there were no specific requests they were making as far as the construction for this weekend. Bowling said the main priority is always safety.

“We expect contractors to have [construction] sites buttoned up every night,” Bowling said. “People walk around downtown every weekend, not just during Homecoming.”

Contact Brittany Hill at [email protected].