Scrolling Headlines:

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September 24, 2016

UMass football’s fourth quarter comeback attempt falls short against Mississippi State Saturday -

September 24, 2016

Cyr: Despite improvement, UMass football still can’t capture first marquee FBS win -

September 24, 2016

MassPIRG kicks off for the fall semester -

September 22, 2016

UMass Resistance Studies Initiative hosts activist and author George Lakey -

September 22, 2016

UMass field hockey readies for tough tests against Stanford, Boston College -

September 22, 2016

Calling the shots: everything you need to know about the flu vaccine -

September 22, 2016

UMass assistant Professor speaks about oppression of American Indians -

September 22, 2016

Astronomy department head hosting sundial and sky-watching event -

September 22, 2016

UMass football looks to pull off upset against Mississippi State Saturday -

September 22, 2016

Cyr: Comis? Ford? Here’s how I would handle the UMass quarterback situation this weekend against Mississippi State -

September 22, 2016

An unofficial presidential debate drinking game for the unruly masses -

September 22, 2016

Stop sweating the small stuff -

September 22, 2016

In defense of being uncomfortable -

September 22, 2016

Please go to sleep -

September 22, 2016

VIDEO – ‘Life in the Dollhouse: Wes Anderson and the Dollhouse Aesthetic’ -

September 22, 2016

Student struck by car near UMass’ Mullins Center -

September 21, 2016

President Anthony Vitale and Vice President Nick Rampone anticipate productive year at SGA -

September 21, 2016

Symposium hosts discussion on safety for journalism students -

September 21, 2016

Andrew Ford, Ross Comis still battling for UMass football’s starting QB position -

September 21, 2016

Black Sheep finds support in its flock during tough economy

BLACKSHEEPWEB

Nick Bush/Collegian

Many small businesses are finding lines of credit hard to come by since the recession hit the American banking sector, but the owner of the Black Sheep Deli in Amherst has taken a unique approach to raising money for renovations, and one that relies on the establishments’ most consistent supporters – its everyday patrons.

One of the first things evident to customers upon entering is the colorful chalk of the deli’s blackboard, enshrined with sandwiches created with an inventive flair not found in a run of the mill fast food restaurant or pizzeria. In part thanks to the unique character of the establishment, the Black Sheep has come to be known as an enclave for the Valley’s local progressive bohemians who patronize its bakery, coffee shop and deli offerings daily.

As the owner and manager of the Black Sheep, Nick Seamon has been operating from a prominent location between Town Hall and the Amherst Police Department for more than 23 years, and has taken what some could call an idiosyncratic approach towards raising funds for renovations. Until Sunday, Feb. 21 the Black Sheep will be selling ‘Deli Dollars,’ a form of gift certificates.

The twist, however, is that Deli Dollars will be redeemable only after April 15; for their wait, patrons will get 25 percent more buying power at the Black Sheep. For example, if someone were to purchase eight dollars of Deli Dollars today, the gift certificates would be worth ten dollars in mid-April.

“Support a local business in this tough economy,” reads the beginning of a flyer accompanying the Black Sheep’s announcement of the plan, which hopes to raise as much as $10,000.

“We did this a number of times before in order to raise money for specific reasons,” said Seamon. “We have always liked to do things our own way around here, and try to consider new ideas.”

He mentioned the current difficulty many small businesses have had securing loans from bank lenders over the past year, but noted that he much preferred being supported by local patrons than the now-beleaguered banks.

“I prefer alternate sources of funding,” said Seamon. “The fewer bank loans, the better. My goal is no bank loans … Just a bank account.”

He mentioned similar instances where the Black Sheep has chosen alternative methods of funding for its growth, including when it added a handicapped accessible bathroom twelve years ago, and its expansion of its refrigeration abilities just over a decade ago.

This time around, Seamon is hoping to help pay for recent renovations to the café, which have added two new tables of seating, expanded counter space and streamlined the checkout process for patrons.

“This way,” said Seamon, “people can come in and try new things” while supporting a local business, and still benefit themselves with increased purchasing power.

“The people of Amherst are very supportive,” he said, “and our customers have been good to us over the years.”

Nick Bush can be reached at nbush@student.umass.edu.

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