Getting Answers: Local businesses impacted by commencement ceremonies in Amherst

Graduation ceremonies at UMass Amherst and Amherst College are coming up in a few short days and expected to bring in huge crowds.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:02 PM EDT
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AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Graduation ceremonies at UMass Amherst and Amherst College are coming up in a few short days and expected to bring in huge crowds.

Meanwhile, local businesses are gearing up for what’s anticipated to be a weekend packed with customers.

Coming up this weekend, thousands of students and parents will be celebrating their graduation ceremony which means heading to stores in western Mass.

However, those stores say they will be feeling the economic impacts of the people coming in and the students coming out.

Over 25,000 people are expected to head to Amherst ahead of the commencement ceremonies at UMass on Friday and Saturday, Amherst College on Sunday.

Western Mass News spoke with the president of the Amherst Town Council Lynn Griesemer, she told us graduation weekend is already affecting local businesses.

“The hotels are filled, the restaurants have enormous amounts of reservations in them, in addition to that a lot of people have cookouts in their backyards and welcome the graduates and their parents in,” said Griesemer.

Coronation Cafe opened its doors last June.

Manager of the cafe, Bruce Graber explained this will be his first time dealing with the potential influx of customers.

“We definitely heard that around town that it will be busier,” said Graber. “We started last June of 2022,” said Graber. “We’ve never been through graduation week before being a new business so we’re not totally sure how it’s going to affect us.”

With graduation week upon them businesses also face a large portion of their student customer base leaving town for summer break.

Graber told us the next three months would be different without them.

“I think we’ll be missing them more,” said Graber. “Being a new business, we’re still building our customer base so we will miss the students.”

Griesemer pointed out Amherst still has plenty of events through the summer to attract customers downtown.

“There will be concerts on the common, the farmers market,” said Griesemer. “They draw people from all over the area and visitors here even from faraway places. So, the economics are not quite as robust but they’re not as bad as people might think. We don’t become a dead college town.”

Graber told us while students are the lifeblood of his business, he believes his local customers will carry him through the less busy summer months.

“It’s been a good mix,” said Graber. “We’ve gotten quite a few students; we’ve got regulars that come in and study for a couple of hours at a time or just a short visit. We have noticed the students coming, but it’s been a good mix of local people and students.