Spring Weekend means business as usual for local businesses
The start of Spring Weekend tonight marks another instance of what has become a confused tradition on the UConn campus. On the one hand, Spring Weekend has meant almost complete campus lockdown for a few years now; on the other, the weekend has an infamous legacy of chaos, destruction and even death. Most of the businesses in the new Storrs Center development arrived after the drastic shift in Spring Weekend occurred, and thus have only scattered anecdotes to help contextualize what the weekend means for them now.
"Last year we were worried, because we had heard bad things," said Stephen Smith, co-owner and general manager of Dog Lane CafÃ©. "But nothing happened."
Smith went on to say that he felt the hype around spring weekend has been "overblown" given what the weekend has looked like in recent years. He noted that the cafÃ© actually saw a decrease in customer flow during last year's Spring Weekend, likely due to the increased security around campus during the event.
"If last year was any indication, I wouldn't expect much," he said. "I think people in Mansfield are nervous about coming in [to Storrs]."
Dil Bhandari, owner of Storrs Wine and Spirits, said that many of the businesses in Storrs Center have had a similar experience to Smith's, referencing a recent monthly meeting of the downtown Storrs commercial tenants.
"We were in the meeting, and they said their business didn't peak," Bhandari said of some of his fellow business owners. "It was like usual."
Given that he owns a liquor store, however, Bhandari's business has a slightly different demand curve over spring weekend.
"I'm debating, should I stock more? I wasn't prepared for game time," Bhandari said, referring to UConn's dual NCAA national championship wins. "But I'll be more prepared now... hire extra help, etc. And we check IDs on everyone always."
Though the tightened campus regulations and increased police presence over the weekend makes huge, riot-like parties nearly impossible, there are still some students who find ways to celebrate spring weekend the way it used to be done. The staff at the new UConn Health Urgent Care Center are prepared for any extra injuries or incidents that may arise from the notorious party weekend.
"We assume that we'll see a higher volume of students," said Jessica Underwood, ancillary services manager at the Urgent Care Center.
Underwood went on to say that the Center cannot predict whether there will actually be an increase in students, and if so, how large that increase will be. However, the Center is prepared for whatever the case may be.
"We are open and ready," Underwood said. "We are here to help."
Though Dog Lane CafÃ© serves downtown Storrs in a very different way than the Urgent Care Center, Smith expressed a similar sentiment about his business.
"We'll be open [during] regular hours," Smith said. "We encourage people to come on down."
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