Store owners question long hours

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Photo by Kathryn Crandall.

As discussions about what business will come to occupy the space at One Broadway continue, store hours might be one one of the subjects under negotiation.

Extended store hours along York Street and throughout the Broadway shopping district have forced one store to move to Chapel Street, raising questions about whether the longer business days University Properties enforces for the Shops at Yale are supporting or stymieing business around campus.

In the aftermath of the real estate crisis of the late 1980s, the University bought storefronts along Chapel Street and Broadway. During former President Richard Levin’s tenure, University Properties was established in 1996 to help manage Yale’s commercial properties including retail stores, office space and residential units in the Elm City. As part of this initiative,the department attempted to revamp the streets around campus by bringing in new businesses, and establishing rules for stores under their purview, including extending the length of the typical business day by requiring many stores in the area to stay open until 9 p.m. According to School of Management professor Douglas Rae, these extended hours make Yale students and staff feel safe and comfortable walking in these areas — which was not necessarily the case 25 years ago.

“They have sought to make the area something of a destination shopping area for people who don’t live right on campus,” Rae said. “They have been very successful in implementing that strategy.”

But because of these long hours, Therapy Boutique moved from its previous space at 286 York St. to its current residence at 1022 Chapel St. this past November. While the manager could not be reached for comment this week, in a past interview with the News, store manager Richard Lee said that the long hours University Properties has placed on many of the shops in the area influenced the change of location. Employees interviewed said that the move has not seemed to affect business in a significant way.

While these long hours were one of the reasons Therapy Boutique transferred locations, the heads of other stores in the Broadway shopping district interviewed said that the long hours did not cause trouble for their businesses.

Denali store manager Chris Sciarappa, whose store stays open until 9:00 p.m. on weekdays, said that though University Properties sets these hours, they have not affected his business. In fact, Sciarappa said many customers stay in the store past closing time to buy apparel.

Like Rae, Scirappa added that he believes the University pursued this strategy in order to make the downtown area safer.

“You can do that if everything is more well lit, and there is more foot traffic with stores being open later,” Scirappa said. “If there are more people out, then there are more eyes out.”

Students interviewed also voiced support for the extended hours in the Broadway shopping district, citing the fact that athletes often spend all afternoon at practice, preventing them from shopping before evening.

Jeremy Liu ’16, who often walks near the shopping district, said that he appreciates the long hours, because they allow him to purchase items when he learns last-minute that he needs to attend an event. He also likes that, when he is walking home from meetings or practices late at night, the lighting makes him feel safer.

University Properties has over 85 property tenants, including 32 retail shops and pays $4 million annually in commercial real estate taxes.

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