Imagine what happens when students of colleges and universities head home for summer break, leaving the campus (and student population) significantly low for the next few months. With little to no customers to support on-campus retailers, what happens to those businesses?
While on-campus businesses may seem like they’re booming eight months out of the year, off-campus retail districts continue to grow in sales, foot traffic, and longevity. Businesses. like these, along Kalamazoo’s regional retail corridor are satisfied with their off-campus location, not just for their reasonable rent, spacious parking, and curb appeal, but for their strong customer base and business growth, year-round. Retailers at shopping center locations, like West Century Center and 308 North Drake Road, thrive off the visibility, accessibility, and vehicle traffic that on-campus locations fail to provide.
The student population (sometimes two-thirds living off-campus) is supportive toward on-campus retail in frequent spending, especially at coffee shops and eateries between classes. Variety and low-cost options, however, are more appreciable in off-campus regional retail shopping corridors, which draw in the student-demographic (regardless of the size of an undergraduate’s wallet). Unlike on-campus retail, a regional retail location also allows businesses to build a larger customer base through residents and travelers passing through town.
Kalamazoo’s student population, between Western Michigan University (WMU), Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, is an estimated 44,000 people (or customers) that accrue each year. Centered among these campuses, and less than two miles down the road from WMU, are West Century Center and 308 North Drake Road.
These retail shopping centers are not only supported by the surrounding student population, but a more diversified market made up of good-quality neighborhoods, US-131 travelers, and West Main Street’s growing business district. This location is also accessible to nearly 62,000 people within a 3-mile radius and over 68,000 travelers per day. It is unlikely on-campus businesses are as successful or long-lasting as they have the potential to be if located at a more exposed, accessible location outside campus, like West Main Street and North Drake Road.
Is your current location hurting your business’ potential and longevity?
Are you reaching the right target market? Could you be reaching larger, more diversified markets?
One sample neighborhood census shows an annual average neighborhood income of $15,000, with the majority represented by active-student residents. Another study, performed by the National Center for Educational Statistics, found the average income for a college student to be only $14,400. An undergraduate, typically with little or without income, is often supplemented by financial aid, through loans and/or scholarships, and by parental financial support. In comparison, nearly $51,000 in annual household income exists just outside Kalamazoo college campuses, and is potentially a more diversified, working demographic market. Therefore, on-campus locations rely on growth through a market (eight months out of each year) with essentially less than a third of the annual income that exists in the Kalamazoo market living just outside the 1-mile radius of their campus location. An off-campus location is the more opportune site selection, offering you exposure to a wealthier, more permanent target market that shops along the West Main Street retail corridor.
Positioned at either retail shopping center are retailers and other businesses that have the capability to reach larger markets with higher annual incomes within that market. The result for them is a more thriving, successful investment in the long run. Click on the property page links below for more information on these thriving off-campus locations.