Broadway prepares for College Night

Broadway merchants hope the clear weather holds out today as they prepare to greet the city’s college students for the biannual College Night extravaganza.

Though weather forecasts put the likelihood of rain at 100 percent for Thursday, organizers said this year’s College Night will be a bigger production than prior incarnations. Students will receive 10 to 50 percent discounts off regular prices for most of the day at participating stores, including the major national chains and most of the independent retail businesses and restaurants. But some Yalies said the planned activities are unlikely to draw them out on special shopping expeditions.

College Night will feature henna tattoo artists, a fortune teller and a fashion show with student models wearing garments supplied by local retailers.

University Properties Director of Marketing Shana Schneider ’00 said College Night — which is now in its fourth year — is designed to introduce college students from around the city to downtown New Haven and to combat the common misperception that the Broadway district is an extension of the Yale campus. She said students from all the city’s universities should not feel alienated from Broadway, as the district has much to offer the entire student population.

“There is a significant amount to gain from reaching out to students from the local area,” Schneider said. “When they go home, they are not going home to California. It helps to strengthen the economy of the merchants in the area.”

Broadway’s merchants said the success of past College Nights has been varied, although its popularity has grown steadily over the years. They said the last year’s fall event was one of the best on record, but the spring 2006 event was somewhat disorganized.

Tracy Houle, the manager of Wish List on York Street, which opened its doors in November 2005, said the last College Night was one of the store’s most profitable days since its opening. She said poor weather hurt last spring’s College Night, and that she hopes it does not spoil this year’s.

“College Night last year was one of the best days since opening,” she said. “We are just hoping the weather holds out.”

Paul Cuticello, the owner of Paul Richards, said College Night is a rare chance to get students from universities beyond Yale onto Broadway. Some of the students who are first introduced to Broadway during a College Night return in subsequent weeks and months, he said.

Yale students said that while they are glad Broadway merchants organize College Night, it is not an event that encourages them to spend more than they would normally.

“I don’t really shop around here that often, but it’s a good initiative,” Melina Cordero ’09 said. “I think it will be kids who usually shop [that] shop more tomorrow night.”

Edwina Clark ’09 said she is vaguely aware of College Night, but that she will not make a special effort to go.

“Anything that increases their business is good for New Haven, [but] it’s not something I put in my diary,” she said.

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