October 8, 2012
Filed under Arts and Entertainment
Local businesses can reap the benefits of a college town location–as long as they cater to college students.
Earth and Wears accessories boutique in Dallas sells handmade items, like jewelry, purses and picture frames, and according to the shop’s owner Lyn Carey, she relies on the patronage of the MU community.
“Misericordia teachers and students are the backbone of this business,” said Carey, noting that during the summer, a group of women who were taking a week-long course came into her Main Street shop to buy presents for their teacher.
“Then, the teacher came and bought all of these presents. It was wonderful,” she said.
Carey has brought her merchandise to the Banks Student Life Center to sell to students during lunchtime, when the center is busiest.
Facebook is Earth and Wears’ primary marketing tool and, according to Carey, a social networking presence makes it easier to stay in contact with alumni who may move out of the area after graduating. She also uses Etsy.com to sell her products online and ship them to wherever her costumers may be.
“The costumers that I have are so loyal, and everything they have to buy is handmade,” said Carey. “Once they’re here, they’re here.”
Earth and Wears sees a boost in sales around the holidays, specifically Christmas and Mother’s Day, said Carey, from students buying one-of-a-kind handmade items she stocks in the store.
“And whose going to hand paint the box themselves?” she says, with a laugh, holding out one of the gift boxes she painted.
Lake Street restaurant Pizza Bella is in a nice walking distance from MU, according to owner Patrick Cunningham–and that led to his decision to open his shop.
Customers from the Back Mountain, including college students from MU and Penn State Wilkes-Barre, were frequenting Pizza Bella’s Forty-Fort location. He notices a difference in business when college is in session and when it is not, and said that during the school year the dining room will sometimes be filled to its 80-person capacity.
Pizza Bella offers a 15% off discount for students with their MU I.D. and hosts “Misericordia Monday,” when, every Monday night, 15% of a customer’s bill is donated the MU class of 2014.
Cunningham said being on the same street as MU brings in more than just the students.
“Moms and Dads enjoy coming to the restaurant to eat while dropping off their kids at college,” he said.
Local contemporary women’s boutique Buka, in Shavertown, doesn’t always bring in the business that owner Joanna Grover would like to, unless Mom or Dad foot the bill.
“I know college students don’t tend to have a lot of money,” she said, noting that Buka’s items may not fit a student’s budget, and during weekends when parents come to visit she will see more college students in the store.
Grover would like to attract more business from students, and she has advertised the store on campus. She said that the store does tend to cater toward women with a more mature taste in clothing, but Buka does bring in “younger” lines, like Quicksilver and other surf brands. The prices on these items may be more affordable for college students, said Grover.
She believes that part of the problem could be that students, especially those without cars on campus, don’t know that Buka exists.
“I do wish I was working on a little main street,” said Grover, who used to work in a boutique in Cape May, NJ, a notorious walking town. “Here is more of a destination. People have to come specifically and find us.”
Grover said it is difficult to advertise, considering she runs the shop by herself, but she would like to target college students through offering a student discount or placing fliers in students’ mailboxes on campus.
“There’s an audience there for it. It’s just about hitting the right people and getting the right people to know you’re here,” Grover said.
And some of the “right” people may not be buyers. They are sometimes sellers, too.
MU Senior Deanna Davis said her job at a local business in Dallas helped her save more money than she could when she had to drive back and forth to her hometown of Scranton for work at The Mall at Steamtown. She began working at Connor’s Grillroom on Memorial Highway in January, which is just a short drive from her apartment. She said this arrangement is easier on her gas tank.
“I used to spend $60 in gas a week. Now, it’s $30 every two weeks,” she said. “I can work more and make more money since I’m closer [to school].”
Davis said her grades have improved significantly after taking the job.
“The hours are better. I don’t have to waste time driving instead of studying and it’s not a big chain restaurant,” she said. “It’s a small enough where I feel like my school schedule matters and my hours can be more flexible.”