The Rahooligan: Harvard-Yale Fun Shouldn't Cost An Arm and a Keg
Gomes is the manager of Blanchard’s, the Allston liquor store that supplies most of the kegs on Harvard’s campus. His store is a favorite of students, not only because it’s right across the river but because it also offers delivery.
“I had no idea,” Gomes says about the Harvard-Yale game’s barrel-less bacchanalia.
I’ll forgive Gomes for not reading The Crimson everyday to follow the controversy. But if the University administration wants to make good with Allston, it ought to do better than freezing out the small businesses that students often frequent.
Over 30,000 students, alumni and other fans will be in town both Friday and Saturday for the Game—and they’ll want to party. While Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 claims that complaining about the keg ban is simply a reflection of students’ irrational desire to live a “beer-ad” life, I think most people understand the economic and social implications of using kegs rather than dozens of cases of beer.
Kegs are financially more efficient for the cash-strapped student. They also have a similar profit margin to cases of beer for businesses like Blanchard’s, and since kegs are re-usable, they allow the store to keep costs down.
Gomes, however, reluctantly acknowledges why Lewis et al. have pursued this path.
“I think I understand why they might do something,” he says. “I mean, they’re worried about being held liable.”
This Boston businessman speaking in awfully calm tones about what could potentially be a business disaster. While other college campuses like Penn State have banned kegs from football tailgates, Gomes says he’s never heard of a similar situation in his business district.
He concedes, however, that the ban could have an “impact” on Blanchard’s, which is stating the obvious. Considering the large amount of people coming in for the weekend, Blanchard’s and other area keg sellers are missing out on an opportunity to sell hundreds, if not a thousand kegs.
Gomes’ store charges $50 for a keg of Bud, but also has brews that range up to over $100. You do the multiplication–that’s a lot of missing moola.
The big catch is that it will be tough for Blanchard’s to make that up in other sales. Cases of beer are available at locations closer to the Square, so some of the money will be redistributed to those Cambridge businesses who are already overcharging. Blanchard’s is unique in that it’s one of the few nearby places—as well as the cheapest—that sells kegs.
But our progressive-minded administrators haven’t only hurt small businesses—they’ve actually sparked one as well.
Sophomore roommates Matt Chingos, Sid Jha, Frank Wu and Jason Wen have been selling 8 oz. flasks since last month. The words “Harvard-Yale The Game” are engraved on the flasks, which the budding entrepreneurs sell for $25 apiece.
“I thought of it in October after I heard about the keg ban,” Chingos says. “We ordered 100 of them from a company in Utah and started to sell.”
Chingos refuses to say exactly how many they’ve sold but concedes it’s “well over 50 percent” and that they expect to sell out by Game-time.
While the foursome received an email from their tutor reminding of them of the rules detailing restrictions on running businesses out of dorm rooms, they are in the clear because one of them lives in the area, and have technically been selling from there.
In addition to word-of-mouth sales, Jha’s website, www.geocities.com/sidjha, showcases a picture of the flask with the words “Don’t let the Keg Ban hold you back!” and instructions on how to purchase one of the drinking apparati.
“If I could pick between having kegs and the flasks, though, I’d rather have the kegs,” Chingos admits.
So forget the emotional arguments about the proper role of administrators on tailgate restrictions, or whether they’ll be more injuries, drunkenness or litter at the Game as a result of an abundance of cans.
Instead, buy a flask, get drunk and watch Harvard win. Then on Monday, call up Blanchard’s and order a keg. And say hi to Gomes.
—Staff writer Rahul Rohatgi can be reached at email@example.com.