For most students at Castleton University, when their last final exam ends, they pack up and don’t look back for three weeks. But the small businesses in the town of Castleton remain despite their absence and are still providing customer service and goods to the locals.
So what is the morale like when students are gone and do retailers enjoy their absence or long for their return?
“Business is definitely slower in the winter time period. Our busiest time is in the summer between the months of July and August. December is a pretty good month for us though,” said local business owner John Rehlen.
Rehlen owns Birdseye Diner, Castleton Village Store, Castleton Pizza and Deli and Blue Cat Bistro. Between his businesses, he employs about 25 Castleton University students.
Bill Hieder, owner of The Depot Café, employs three Castleton University students.
He said he notices a difference when the students are gone and would rather have them around.
“It’s slightly busier throughout the school year. It does become slower in the three weeks that students are gone,” said Hieder.
In addition to losing student business, both employers say staffing is much tougher when the students are on break.
Sarah Schindler, cashier at The Castleton Village Store, said she thinks having students around has its pros and cons.
“It’s definitely a lot quieter and more locals are coming in. It’s busier when students are around so shifts go by faster. On the other hand, when it is slower we are able to get projects and other things done,” she said.
But those interviewed mostly agree, it’s better when students inhabit the town.
“The employees tend to like it when the students are around. Most of the time they are more polite than the regulars that come in,” said Hieder.
Rehlen is in agreement.
“We like to have students around. It’s not just from a business standpoint either,” he said. “It brings an element of liveliness to the town.”