The empty storefront at 45 S. Pleasant Street, formerly known as A.J. Hastings, is opening back up to the community as an official college store this spring. The space will sell merchandise and distribute course materials through the new initiative Amherst College Textbook Solution (ACTS) which will cover the cost of textbooks and other books in tuition and financial-aid packages starting next fall.
For over 100 years, 365 days a year, A.J. Hastings served the Amherst community, selling office supplies, newspapers, college clothing, and gifts. The family-run store closed its doors in July 2022. A.J. Hastings owners Mary Louise Broll and wife Sharon Povinelli retired, as it was difficult to train others to take over, and their family wasn’t in the area to carry on its legacy.
“We are truly honored to be able to inhabit this historic space and return it to the bustling storefront Mary, Sharon, and their family maintained for so long,” President Michael Elliott said.
To provide merchandise after the closure of A.J. Hastings, the college revamped Schwemm’s Cafe in January 2023 to include a market featuring t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, scarves, mugs and other products. A trailer dubbed “The Wheely Mammoth” also opened as a transportable version of Schwemm’s Mammoth Market, popping up for special events and times when Schwemm’s is closed. Both will continue to operate.
Broll and Povinelli are working with longtime friend and downtown stakeholder Barry Roberts in the interim, collaborating with Kuhn Riddle Architects to renovate the building. They are maintaining its layout as a store and residential/office space.
“We are thrilled to have Amherst College take the reins on our space,” Broll said. “For decades we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the college. Their students, faculty, alumni, and staff were a huge customer base, and further, a constant reminder that our town is built upon the educational sector. We welcome their enhanced presence in our downtown.”