With in-person classes expected to resume at Queen’s University this fall, many downtown businesses are excited to welcome back the student population.
“Students definitely are part of the success of downtown because we need them for hospitality, food and beverage, retail and some other sectors also. So, when they’re gone, they’re missed. And it’s been a long year and a half,” says Marijo Cuerrier of Downtown Kingston.
One business that has especially missed Queen’s students is YGK Thrift.
The thrift store is owned and run by Almost Home, a charity organization that provides housing for families whose children are receiving medical treatment in Kingston-area hospitals.
“Queen’s students were a big part of this store starting. It was kickstarted really by the Vogue Charity Fashion Show last year, through a donation that they made and support that they made,” says Sam MacLeod of Almost Home. “They helped us decorate the store, choose the colours, decide on the layout and we still have a lot of people from the charity fashion show working with us.”
MacLeod says he is eager to have students back in the downtown core.
“The point of the store is really to invite students in, to get students donating their clothes, but also buying clothes. And so we’re really looking forward to when they come back,” he says. “Because they’re one of our primary targets as far as who we’re hoping to sell to.”
Jade Courchesne is a Queen’s University student and volunteers at YGK Thrift. She says her friends and classmates will be returning to Kingston in the fall.
“I know a lot of my friends are coming back and they’re excited to be back on campus, and they’re excited to go downtown and to eat out. And usually, when you’re downtown you don’t just go to a restaurant, you go to all the stores, right? So you go to Agent99, or YGK Thrift,” says Courchesne.
She says that she thinks it will start to feel more like it did pre-pandemic.
“I’m excited. I feel like it’s going to become the hub downtown again, like how we saw it a couple of years ago, or two years ago. So, it’s going to be good I think,” Courchesne says.
For some businesses, returning students not only mean an economic boost, but also a pool of potential employees as they continue to ramp up operations post lockdown.
In the case of YGK Thrift, students back in Kingston means more opportunity for donations, volunteers and purchases for the good of their charity.