Following the grand opening of seven new shops surrounding Yale’s campus, stores in the Broadway Shopping District offered Black Friday promotions and attracted a multitude of customers from beyond New Haven this past weekend.
University Properties hosted the grand opening for all seven businesses last Tuesday to ensure that the stores could open their doors before holiday shopping — the time of year when businesses conduct the majority of their transactions. While store owners interviewed said that they experienced smaller-than-expected crowds overall this year, they noted that many visitors came from outside the city specifically for Black Friday.
Stores across Connecticut are no stranger to experiencing influxes of customers during the holiday season, as Connecticut residents are ranked fifth in the nation in terms of spending, according to financial information website WalletHub.
Stephanie Smith, an associate at Lou Lou on Broadway, which opened last Tuesday, said she thinks the shops along the street provided New Haven and Connecticut residents a good alternative to mall shopping on Black Friday. She said that the area, although somewhat crowded, was not nearly as hectic as a mall.
Stores along the street offered a variety of promotions and deals to attract customers, including Emporium DNA’s 20 percent discount on purchases of $500 or more. The Shops at Yale also offered free parking on Broadway in their center lot to incentivize travel to downtown New Haven.
Sandra Morantin, a manager at Thom Brown on Broadway said that, although few people came out to shop Friday morning, a sizable crowd emerged around noon. Karen Cocce, a manager at Emporium DNA, agreed that the traffic on Broadway was “a little soft” for a Black Friday.
Ivy Wanta ’17 said it is difficult for stores in college towns to have successful Black Fridays because most students are home.
Although the Broadway Shopping District attracted many visitors over the weekend, store owners interviewed said they are still awaiting students, who they believe will make up a sizable percentage of their customer base. But, in recent months, Yale students have raised questions about the target demographic for four of these stores on Broadway in particular — Kiko Milano and Emporium DNA at the coveted One Broadway Location, and Barbour and Lou Lou further down the street.
“We want visitors, students, locals, everyone to come in here,” said Jackie Riviera, manager at Kiko Milano. “We want students to come in here because our prices are affordable.”
Cocce said she feels Emporium DNA is relatively unknown among students at the moment, but that she expects students to shop at the store. She added that, since University Properties conducted research about student consumer preferences prior to choosing Emporium as a tenant, she thinks that students will likely be interested in the store’s available brands.
The Black Friday and Small Business Saturday promotions were the first of multiple events hosted by the Shops at Yale to promote holiday shopping in the area. Yesterday, the Shops unveiled the Holiday Window Installation by Paier College of Art on Broadway to make the area more enticing.
The Shops also sponsored the opening of a “Holiday Gift Wrapping Lounge” at 286 York St., which offers a gift-wrapping service by volunteers to benefit housing the homeless.
53 Broadway, the former home of Educated Burgher, and 21 Broadway, the former location of A1 Pizza, remain vacant.