Stacks and stacks of freshly shrink-wrapped textbooks, a handful of new employees, an off-the-wall new pizza flavor.
These are just a few of the provisions several local merchants said they are stocking up on in preparation for the return of college students this week.
SUNY Oneonta freshmen can begin moving into their dorms today and will begin classes Monday, while Hartwick college freshmen will move in Thursday and begin classes Tuesday, Sept. 2, officials said.
With the influx of more than 2,500 new students to area colleges, local merchants, restaurants and shop owners are all gearing up for the annual reunion, they said last week.
For Damascene Book Cellar, SUNY Oneonta’s official campus bookstore, this means hiring “eight or nine” extra staffers and training nine new cashiers, according to Dan Birnbaum, owner of the store.
“We needed more people in order to accommodate everything that needs to be done,” Birnbaum said. “We’ve been doing a lot to get ready for the students to come back.”
Damascene will see “thousands and thousands of transactions” this year, Birnbaum said.
“Many students buy some of their books from us, and many buy all of their books from us,” he added.
The book store started preparing for this semester in March, Birnbaum said.
“It takes us that long to get ready,” he said.
A big part of the preparation process includes gathering information from faculty about required textbooks for the fall semester classes. Damascene starts ordering books and other supplies for the store in March, making an effort to get as many used copies as possible. Then, new copies are ordered.
Books begin to arrive in the middle of July and then have to be processed and put on the shelves in a specific order, Birnbaum said. It takes a lot of team work to get everything in order.
During summer orientations, Damascene began taking book orders online, Birnbaum said. About 1,500 online pre-orders were made, which could be picked up beginning last Thursday.
The Sip & Sail Tavern on Water Street is another local facility that will soon be buzzing with activity, according to owner Adrian Origoni.
“Today’s been one of the craziest days,” Origoni said Friday. “I have to go to the bank and get ready for everything. It’s a big day.”
Shane Quackenbush, a bartender at The Sip, said the tavern “always gets busier when the college kids come back.” The establishment is well prepared, he said.
The most popular drinks vary from semester to semester, but college women always like the fruity drinks and the guys “order a manly drink like rum and Coke, even if they don’t like it,” Quackenbush said.
No new bartenders needed to be hired as of Friday, he said, and the ingredients needed for the favorite drinks are all in stock.
“We keep everything on hand, just in case,” Quackenbush said. “You never know who or how many people are going to come in.”
At Tino’s Pizza on Main Street, preparing for the onslaught of college students includes having “a lot more chicken on hand,” according to owner Tino Garufi.
“The summer is more of a relaxing time for us,” Garufi said. “Now that the college students are coming back, we’ve had to hire one or two more people and much more food prepping has to be done.”
The most popular slice among college students is The Walter, which features a blend of mozzarella cheese topped with Ranch dressing, General Tso’s chicken and Buffalo chicken, Garufi said. This is why much more chicken is needed, he said.
When the semester starts, Tino’s extends its hours and is open later, until 2 or 3 a.m., Garufi said. The pizza place regularly delivers pies to the college campuses.
Garufi said the staff at Tino’s has cooked up a new variety of pizza to add to their vast array of specialty flavors, just in time for the college students to return.
“We’re working on one with bacon and potato chips,” Garufi said.
Garufi said he thinks the college students will like the newest creation.
“We’ve been giving out free samples of it this week,” he said Tuesday. “At first, people don’t think it sounds too appetizing, but once they try it, they ask when we’re going to be selling whole pies of it. It’s been doing well.”