Despite initial student concerns about Kiko Milano’s price points, the cosmetics store is attracting customers with affordable products.
After the opening of Kiko Milano drew student criticism, the store’s success at 1 Broadway has encouraged the Italian company to continue moving forward with expansions across the United States, according to an employee who wished to remain anonymous because of company policies about speaking to the press. Kiko Milano opened last November, occupying a site — owned by University Properties — that had remained vacant for over a year.
When Kiko Milano opened in November, students criticized the store for its overpriced, unaffordable and unnecessary options unsuited to the New Haven retail environment. But since January, the store has drawn a variety of customers from New Haven and beyond with affordable prices, the same employee said.
Associate Vice President of University Properties and Director of New Haven Affairs Lauren Zucker said in an email that she was disappointed by Yale students’ criticism of Kiko Milano, especially after various surveys had consistently revealed a student desire for a cosmetics store on Broadway. Zucker added that contrary to what many students initially thought, Kiko Milano boasts affordable price points.
Students interviewed agreed with Zucker, expressing that they had previously held misconceptions on Kiko Milano’s affordability.
“I really thought it was going to be super expensive, but I went in and they were super helpful,” said Darby Herkert ’18. She said she was surprised to find mascara for only $12.
Zucker said that when University Properties was looking to fill the vacant 1 Broadway spot, they approached many popular cosmetics retailers to satisfy students’ requests. She added, however, that the stores UP brings to the downtown area must attract shoppers from throughout Connecticut, instead of just Yale, because the University is not in session for the entire year.
“It is critical to find tenants who serve our immediate local population but also draw shoppers from a wide radius around New Haven,” Zucker said. “The mix of tenants cannot be just student friendly or the merchants do not survive, past history would show.”
Three Kiko Milano employees said the store draws customers mainly from outside of Yale’s campus, either from the surrounding New Haven area or throughout Southern Connecticut.
Although Kiko Milano does not keep any data on the demographics of their customers, Mark Abraham ’04, director of nonprofit DataHaven — which collects and analyzes data about economic trends — said Broadway draws customers from outside New Haven through chain stores such as the Apple Store.
Still, while Kiko Milano seems to rely on customers from outside New Haven, Rebecca Brooks, a manager of Denali — an outdoor clothing store on Broadway — said their business relies heavily on the Yale community.
“At times when schools is out, we don’t do as much business,” Brooks said. “There’s a direct relation between Yale and our business.”