Hanover welcomes the return of Dartmouth students

Local businesses have experienced an increase in sales with students’ arrival.

by Anaïs Zhang | 9/14/21 5:10am

by Natalie Dameron / The Dartmouth Staff

As returning students arrived on campus this weekend for the start of fall term, Hanover business owners and residents said that the influx of students has energized the town, bringing the town to life and boosting sales for local stores.

“We love when students come back because you can just feel that energy level in the community pick up,” Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said. 

Business owners have noticed that freshmen are frequenting downtown more often than in previous years, according to Griffin, noting that  First-Year Trips were revised this year, allowing students to venture into town as opposed to camping outdoors. 

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of students coming in with their families,” Still North Books & Bar owner Allie Levy ’11 said. She added that it was “great and exciting” to see First-Year Trip leaders bringing first-year students to Still North, although it was an occurrence that would not have happened in a normal year. 

Several Hanover businesses have experienced busy sales weeks due to the arrival of students. Owner of Records, Memorabilia and Posters New Hampshire owner Bryan Smith said that he had “no downtime” this past Thursday as students flooded the store’s doors. The store’s national park prints have been the best-selling items, according to Smith, while tapestries have been popular among upperclassmen and off-campus students. He also remarked that the freshmen are particularly polite. 

“Not just me, all the businesses I’ve talked to, we’re all noticing that the Class of 2025 is extremely polite,” Smith said. “Everyone’s saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”

Owner of Roberts Flowers of Hanover Michael Reed said that this past week was “crazy.” Continuing an annual tradition, Roberts Flowers gifted freshmen a free plant to decorate their dorm rooms. This year, students could select from 12 different varieties of plants that Reed described as “easy to take care of,” including ivy, peperomia, spider plants and ferns.

Most Hanover residents have not expressed concerns over the return of the student body, Griffin noted. As of Monday, there are a total of 20 active COVID-19 cases on campus, 12 of which are undergraduate students.

“I think that’s in large part because the College and this particular region have done a great job on the vaccination front,” she said. “So many of our residents are vaccinated.”

However, parents of children under 12 — an age cohort for which the Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorized the COVID-19 vaccine — are “on edge” and have “lingering concerns” regarding the influx of students to campus, according to Griffin.

Hanover businesses, in large part, continue to offer both indoor, outdoor and take-out options. Levy noted that it would be a “huge financial challenge” for her business to transition to outdoor-only dining, especially after figuring out how to safely serve people indoors. According to Levy, Still North continues to require masks indoors unless people are seated and actively eating or drinking. 

Rod Swain, affectionately known as the “Ring Man” by Dartmouth students, said that when he sees parents accompanying new students, he enjoys giving them suggestions on places to visit in the Upper Valley. 

“I like to let them know if they have extra time, [there are] certain things that they should go [to] in the area, such as St. Gaudens, a historic site in Cornish, New Hampshire,” Swain said.

Hanover residents Dick and Margaret Powell expressed excitement toward the arrival of Dartmouth students. Dick said that he was uncertain if the students would comply with the town’s mask mandate, but he noted that he was glad to see students return. 

“When [students] weren’t here, this place was really dead,” Dick said. “The stores were hurting. So, we’re just so glad to see lights on in the dorms and kids everywhere.”

“We love the students,” Margaret added. “It just makes the town alive.”