Kettleman's parking lot stays full throughout the day. Photo credit: Alvin Tsang

During non-COVID times when most of Algonquin College’s students were learning on campus, Kettleman’s Bagel Co. was a popular hotspot amongst students.

Today, despite a majority of students learning remotely, Linda Rohmer, the restaurant’s food services manager, says they’re still busy.

“Things are different, but I’m not 100 per cent certain that it’s for the worse,” she said. “People are still coming in for their bagels.”

Algonquin students studying away from campus might be wondering how their favourite retailers at College Square are doing in their absence. The answer in a nutshell: they’re doing ok.

“Unless they wear their Algonquin College sweaters, we can’t really tell if they’re students or not. People of all ages, shapes and sizes come in,” Rohmer said. “The most I can say is that business has been good.”

Another retail store that is doing very well is Bath & Body Works. Before the pandemic, customers would visit to shop for their unique brand of hand lotion — from Sea Island Cotton and Japanese Cherry Blossom to Forever Red and Saltwater Breeze — all top-selling scented products in an assortment of multi-coloured designs.

Now, people still shop, but only 18 customers are allowed inside at a time.

“The store is a little bit different, and the changes are noticeable, but we’re selling a lot,” said Aislinn Finn, a seasonal sales associate. “As much as before if I didn’t know any better.”

Bath & Body Works has made it a priority to be fully stocked on sanitizers at all times. Every single vibrant item and surface in the store is sanitized throughout the day.

Dollarama is another store that sees a steady flow of customers in the pandemic. “Can’t distinguish. We’re as busy as before,” said Stella Hindorff, a store associate, who was busy helping a customer during the phone interview. “Your students have been obeying safety protocols, but some haven’t.”

Aaron Brinskelle, a performing arts student whose studies are on pause due to the pandemic, had the following to say about College Square.

“I still shop where I feel I need to. I live nearby and purchase in large batches,” Brinskelle said. “It’s lame that I can’t sit in restaurants and bars. I miss that. I miss the social aspects.”