127th Boston Marathon

Winning Without Running: Boston Small Businesses Welcome Marathon Tourism

Photo by Miguel A Amutio/Unsplash

By Jonathan Leonidas

Boston University News Service

BOSTON – The Boston Marathon draws runners and spectators from all over the world to its course every year, running from Hopkinton to downtown Copley, and brings many new faces to local small businesses.

This Monday, the marathon will celebrate its 127th year, and small business owners said they are well prepared to give visitors an authentic taste of Boston. Even before the race begins, local small businesses have seen a drastic increase in sales due to the influx of visitors, said Jam Fontes, general manager of Mother Juice at 291 Newbury Street.

“I think it doubled our sales quite literally overnight,” said Fontes. “We haven’t seen these types of sales since before COVID.”

Mother Juice has already seen a $2000 increase in sales compared to last year’s Marathon weekend, Fontes said. To prepare for the crowds, the juicery increased the sizes of their food orders, staffed an additional team member, and gave employees longer shifts, Fontes said.

Farther down Newbury, an American restaurant named Eva is also looking to capitalize on its advantageous proximity to the marathon route. Kosta Cami, Eva’s assistant general manager, said the warm weather for this year’s marathon has increased foot traffic along the route.

“We’re not getting those April showers,” said Cami. “It’s great to see everyone out and about: shopping, taking photos, wearing the [Boston] merch.” 

Eva has prepared for the crowds by making sure they have enough drinks, food, and staff to sustain the large numbers, Cami said.

Another small business, The Lenox Hotel, stands at 61 Exeter St., next to the finish line of the Marathon on Boylston Street. The Lenox, an independently owned and operated boutique hotel, has seen a similar uptick in revenue due to its proximity to the marathon’s finish line, according to Lisa Burns, the hotel’s director of marketing.

“We have a lot of repeat guests that have been coming year after year that run the marathon,” said Burns. “It’s actually probably one of our biggest weekends of the year at the hotel.” 

The customers are a mix of both runners and spectators who have come to cheer. Runners stay at the Lenox due to the convenience of its location, so they can easily go back after the race, Burns explained.

The Lenox partners with Boston-based athletic firm New Balance to serve as a “home base” for the company, and houses many of their Boston travelers. Employees at the Lenox don New Balance T-shirts and sneakers to “foster [a] relationship” with the company, Burns said, explaining how the outfits also make it easier for customers to spot employees, as the weekend can be “hectic,” with crowds at the hotel and its restaurant.

While visitors may come from different cities or countries, there is still a sense of Boston pride, said Kosta Cami of Eva.  “It really shows the community that Boston has: everyone wearing the ‘B’ on their chests, the ‘B’ on their hats,” said Cami. “It’s pretty wholesome. It shows how strong Boston is.”

According to Jam Fontes of Mother Juice, small businesses can give visitors a true taste of the Boston spirit. 

“While larger corporations may offer some type of standardization when it comes to service in the service industry,” said Fontes, “I think that small businesses really highlight the importance and the culture of the city.”

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