Local businesses lose a profitable day

The lack of a Pumpkin Festival in downtown Keene takes a toll on local shops

With the Pumpkin Festival being relocated to the Cheshire Fairgrounds and Laconia this year, local businesses on Main Street are losing a very profitable day.

People travelled from all different parts of the country to see the lit jack-o-lanterns that would run down Main Street. The influx of people in Keene made for a very profitable day for the businesses on Main Street.

Supervisor of Synergy Chelsea Dintino said, “Pumpkinfest is a big day for us usually so we do a lot of business on that day.”

Owner of Beeze Tees Tim Pipp said, “In the past, we’ve had a lot of pumpkinfest related orders. Keene State getting club shirts for Pumpkin Lobotomy or Antioch College would come in to get shirts for their events for pumpkinfest, the non-profits coming in and getting stuff for their events. We’ve seen some for the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival, but we haven’t seen as much as we have in the past.”

Pipp continued, “We’re doing all the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival stuff this year so if we counted that, fifteen orders or so where last year might have been twenty-five or thirty.”

Photo Editor / Tim smith

Photo Editor / Tim smith

Owner of Life is Sweet Tracy Keating said, “On pumpkinfest, we would make about half of our best month sales in that one day, which is a good day.”

When the decision was made to relocate the Pumpkin Festival due to last year’s riots, some local businesses prepared for the loss in revenue.

Pipp said, “I’m going down to pumpkinfest this year, so that’s a lot of work for a business like mine. You look at a company like Luca’s or Ted’s or any of the bars in town, they’re here still. I know Life is Sweet is going down to the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival this year. Unless you’re able to do that, it’s very difficult. You’re here and hopefully people will come down to Main Street, that’s what we’re hoping. It’s not going to be the crowds like the last twenty-five years.”

Keating commented on their involvement with the Monadnock Pumpkin Festival.

“We are going to participate in the Pumpkin Festival at the Fairgrounds, so instead of it being all at my store downtown, it will be spread between the two. I think we are going to have a good weekend here at the store. It will be nothing like how it was on that day, but that’s why I chose to attend the festival at the fairgrounds to try to offset the loss,” she said.

Keating mentioned she worked with other business owners to recover a loss in profit.

“We knew the Pumpkin Festival wasn’t coming back, I’m part of the downtown group and we really tried to have events during the year, some sales days we tried to work hard collectively to bring people downtown knowing that Pumpkinfest wasn’t going to be here this year. Since we knew that ahead of time, we could offset a little of those sales by trying to grow our sales in other parts instead of all this weekend.”

Some business owners said that they are not completely upset that there is no Pumpkin Festival in Keene this year.

Owner of Urban Exchange and The Little Boutique Silvia Naumburger said “I think it was less busy than last year, but it was also a lot more costly doing it. We did the modeling where we would have to plan that a week in advance and doing pumpkin models for the windows. It was still a good weekend. There have been less customers on Pumpkin Fest every year. About ten years ago, there were a lot more sales.”

Additionally, regarding food services, Manager of Prime Roast Jennifer Parenteau said, “It was one of our biggest days of the year, but it also was a lot of work for us to staff it and to prepare for it. I think all in all, considering how much work as we put into it, during it and not having it here, it’s okay because it was a lot of work.”

Parenteau continued, “We had a lot of out-of-towners who would come in for a quick cup of coffee. We do really well with our regulars. I would probably never see the out-of-towners again. These people just came in to stay warm, they would use our bathrooms and we were cleaning. Our regulars had a hard time coming in that day because there were so many other out-of-towners who didn’t know what to do or where to go. It was a little frustrating.”

Other business mentioned how they thought the lack of pumpkinfest affects the whole Keene community.

“I think people have mixed feelings about it. Some people want it downtown, I think some people don’t. I’d say that most people want it downtown. Based on the people that come into the store, most people think that it’s gone completely. A lot of people don’t know it’s at the fairgrounds. I’d say that if we want to have an event this year, that’s the event that we have this year and in the future, we are going to have to see what happens,” Pipp said.

“It was a day for all of us to come together and celebrate, so it’s sad that it’s not happening. I’m glad that something is still happening in Swanzey though so the community can still do something similar,” Dintino said.

“A lot of people that live in the area are probably happy that it’s not happening again because of all the smashed pumpkins and all the other messes,” Naumburger said.

Some business owners talked to their customers about what they miss the most about the Pumpkin Festival.

“I think people are sad that it’s gone. When we talked to people, it was always ‘do you remember back then?’ or ‘do you remember when it was smaller?’ and people miss that part of it. It was just a big zoo. It was just a lot of strangers and it just kind of lost it’s quaintness and I think that is what people miss most,” Parenteau said.

“Overall, I’m lucky to be downtown. I love being downtown, I love being a part of this community so I don’t think that the Pumpkin Festival represents Keene. It was just a day. It was just an event that was special, but it doesn’t sum up who we are as a community. With or without it, I think Keene will be just fine,” Keating said.

Jacob can be contacted at jknehr@kscequinox.com

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