Homecoming energizes downtown

Kate Sheafer

Returning alumni bring memories and money to local businesses.

With the Centennial Celebration underway, Kent State’s students, faculty and alumni aren’t the only ones looking forward to Homecoming festivities this weekend.

Sam Verbulecz

Each year, the city of Kent and its businesses see the return of loyal Golden Flashes, full of memories, excitement—and money to spend.

For many businesses downtown, the Homecoming celebration provides a weekend filled with sale spikes, returning friends and energized consumers.

“It’s always a fantastic weekend,” said Carl Picelle, owner of Franklin Square Deli. “We stay busy all weekend, even Sunday.”

Alumni don’t just want to see what’s happened to campus during their visit, they also want to revisit their favorite stores, restaurants and bars downtown.

Picelle expects to see at least 10 percent more business and said he looks forward to reuniting with old friends.

“I’ve had a lot of employees since I’ve been here for 27 years,” he said. “Every year we see several former employees come traipsing in.”

Tom Creech, manager of Ray’s Place, also expects a surge in customers over the weekend, and said the bar is always prepared for familiar faces.

“We build up our staff and get ready to go crazy come Friday,” Creech said, referring to the busy night hours during Homecoming.

“A lot of people remember their days at Ray’s as much as they do their days on campus,” he said.

Although Creech said “crummy weather” often drives more business toward the bars, shop owners say they hope for sunny, warm weather.

“If it’s snowy or rainy, no one’s going to be out just wandering around,” said Jenny Arthur, owner of The Works Inc. “I’m hoping for lots of people and lots of good weather”

Arthur said that while her sales might not increase exponentially, she relies a lot upon the exposure her store gets while people shop around between events.

“I have a lot more people who–the following week–will call and say ‘Hey, I saw this in your store, can you ship it to me?’ or ‘I’m going to come back and get it.’”

Despite differing opinions on the effects of weather, business leaders can agree one thing is certain: Homecoming weekend offers a welcome change to business as usual.

Contact reporter Kate Sheafer at [email protected].