If business in Harvard Square is any criterion of national prosperity, Uncle Sam is pretty well off for the time being at least. A survey of store proprietors yesterday showed that Cambridge cash registers are ringing as undergraduate bill and coins pour into the tills.
Expensive and exclusive clothing establishments, cleaning and pressing shops, liquor stores, bookstores, all have noticed to a greater or lesser degree that there is more money around the Square this fall than at any time since 1929.
Weather Slows Sales
Apparently, however, sporting goods and radios are not selling as well as before. "We can't blame it on economics, though," said one athletic gear salesman. "It's the weather. Here it's been so warm this month that nobody wants to stay inside and play squash. So they don't buy rackets." The same feeling was expressed in a radio shop. "On a sunny October afternoon the boys stay outdoors. They don't listen to radios. They don't buy any radios either."
The general opinion throughout the the Square seems to be that the present boem, is something to be capitalized upon because it most assuredly won't last after prices go up. "And mark my words, son, they'll go up to the clouds before the year's over." said a shirt vendor over the counter.
One stationery store quoted a 33 percent rise in wholesale notebook prices, and its owner worriedly predicted a further increase. Priority restrictions were damned by several men, who complained bitterly that they were having trouble getting metal goods. Chlorine, used in paper bleaching, is not now easily available for that purpose and future paper may have a slightly greyish appearance.
Tweeds Still Coming
Imports from England are arriving safely. "Britain delivers the goods," say the tags in the tweedy bolts, and to all appearances she does, with the minimum of price increase. Orders however, have to be taken two months earlier than last year. Shipments are being broken up and sent over in two or three different boats so that a torpedoed freighter doesn't mean a total loss to the retailer in Cambridge (or any place else).
Strangely enough, haberdashery shortages come mostly in American cotton goods, which have largely been commandeered for Army production.
Tobacco and smoking establishments note a certain drop in the volume of business. "Where a follow used to smoke a pack a day, he cuts down to half, or only pays for a $2.50 pipe when he used to get $5 ones," was the comment in a Mass, avenue emporium.
Cigarette Prices to Jump
Imported briar and tobaccos are nearly impossible to get now, though the flow hasn't completely stopped. Taxes and high costs of production have not yet caught up with cigarette prices, according to expert opinion, but will jump any day now. Matches, which have been for years given out free with purchases, may have to be bought and guarded closely.
"The boys may be stocking up on clothes because they're afraid to wait any more. So that's why clothes sell O.K. But nobody needs to stock up on butts," said another counter-man.
Liquor prices are still "moderate" in the Square though sales are up. A vendor pointed out that just after prohibition prices were way above these now charged, for "stuff" that might be no more than just "a quart of grain alcohol mixed in with some rally prune juice." Now, according to all reports, whisky is better quality