Pumpkin Fest is one of the most profitable days for some businesses in downtown Keene, leaving the managers preparing for weeks and experiencing their highest profits of the season.
“It’s always a great day for us,” Tracy Keating, the owner of Life is Sweet, said. Life is Sweet is a candy shop that recently moved to a larger location in Central Square. Keating commented that everything is going great but it is “a little overwhelming.” Keating said she prepared more for the locals and visitors on Pumpkin Fest.
According to Keating, she has ten times more staff on hand and orders more product in hope of a great day. Seeing as Keating sees almost double the amount of customers on a normal Saturday, she takes a couple of weeks to prepare for Pumpkin Fest. “You take the risk ordering so much,” Keating said. She said it takes strategic planning.
Life is Sweet does make some special treats for Pumpkin Fest. Keating likes to “embrace the spirit.” According to Keating, she has made caramel apples, pumpkin flavored soft serve ice cream, and fall-decorated cupcakes. This year Keating also has ready-to-carve pumpkins. According to Keating, the pumpkins have already been hollowed so they are all ready to carve.
The Art of Inside, Ann Henderson Interiors is another business that profits from Pumpkin Fest. The Art of Inside is a home interior shop, selling home furnishings and decorations. Emily Henderson, the assistant manager said, “We have a lot of fun getting ready.” According to Henderson, the store gets rearranged to accommodate the traffic. Henderson said. The Works Bakery Café also sees a great profit increase from Pumpkin Fest. “It’s the busiest day of the year,” Jeff Rondeau, manger of The Works, said. Rondeau said the store has three times the business they get for an average Saturday. Rondeau claimed their busiest time of the day on Pumpkin Fest is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because of this, The Works is open until 10 p.m., which allows the store to be open an extra four hours according to Rondeau. He also said everyone on staff works on Pumpkin Fest.
In the spirit of Pumpkin Fest, Rondeau said The Works has specials. They make pumpkin flavored cream cheese, bagels, coffee and other items according to Rondeau. He also stated they “prepare all week.” Rondeau said they order double what they normally would.
Not all the businesses in Keene depend on and profit from Pumpkin Fest, according to Laura Keith King, the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Keene. “It depends on the business,” King said. She stated that for some businesses, Pumpkin Fest is huge and for others it is not helpful.
King said some businesses like Pumpkin Fest because it helps out the community, but they do not expect to sell anything. Some of the higher end stores do not make much of a profit on Pumpkin Fest. She also mentioned how Pumpkin Fest is hard on Keene State College. According to King, they “take a lot of the blame for the misbehavior.” King said that sometimes it is not even KSC students. “Car loads of college kids come in looking for parties,” King said.
Despite the issues, Pumpkin Fest is “a wholesome and fun day and evening,” King said.
Shannon Flynn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org