Business owners in the Broadway District are hoping their collective discounts during Thursday’s College Night will bring the same crowd of students to the strip that it has in the past — even if most Yale students interviewed said they do not plan to attend.
Tonight’s event — during which most businesses will offer a 10- to 20-percent discount between 6 and 9 p.m. — will feature a number of attractions, including free airbrush tattooing at Bulldog Burrito, free popcorn at Barnes and Noble, free s’mores at Cosi and street performances by actors, including a band and a magician.
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University Properties Director of Marketing Shana Schneider ’00 said College Night is meant to encourage students from colleges other than Yale, such as Albertus Magnus and Quinnipiac, to frequent Broadway District stores. This year, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs has done more advertising than in the past to encourage a high turnout, she said.
“We’ve done very extensive advertising on both Yale campus and other [New Haven colleges] — more than we’ve done in the past,” she said. “We’ve had a much stronger presence in terms of Facebook, [and] having Yale students invite their friends.”
The Yale College Council partnered with University Properties this year in marketing the event and setting up focus groups to determine what students wanted from College Night.
Ashley’s Ice Cream Cafe Manager Mike Kochis said that during college night last year his store increased sales by almost 20 percent. But he also said that good weather plays a role in student turnout.
Barry Cobden, proprietor of Campus Customs, said increasing daylight and pleasant weather in the spring and summer boost his store’s business. College Night is successful because it is a group effort, Cobden said.
“When there’s a collective sale with the whole block participating, it’s always a home run,” he said.
Jessica Cianflone, the women’s manager of Urban Outfitters, said her store participates in College Night because of past successes. It has been her experience, Cianflone said, that awareness of College Night spreads less from advertising than from word of mouth.
In spite of advertising by the YCC and University Properties, most Yale students interviewed said they were not aware of College Night. Those who knew about the event said they probably would not go.
Ayana Wilson ’11 said that, while she knows about College Night, she generally thinks it is not a good idea to go shopping during spring because of the limited amount of time left in the school year.
“I don’t think I’ll go shopping tomorrow,” she said. “There’s only four weeks of school left, so buying new clothes is a waste of money.”
Rachel Caplan ’10 was unsure whether she would participate in College Night because of her mixed experience with it last year. She said the event was a good idea but that the discounts do not make a significant enough dent in the stores’ already high prices.
But Katherine Bolling ’11 said she had not heard about the festivities or the block-wide sales tonight.
“What is College Night?” she asked.