Business sluggish for U. Station retailers

By: Nick Bergeman ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of | There is still empty retail space in University Station, and business is slow for some of the existing retailers.

Delayed development in the retail section of University Station continues to stall growth as the businesses suffer diminished traffic.

After allowing students to move into the residential area in August 2014, the All-for-One store and Starbucks opened the following month, which are both operated by the company Follett. Others trickled in during the next year, and the space is now occupied by a Graeter’s Ice Cream, Gold Star Chili, Digital Doc, FroZenYo and Top This Donut Bar. Several properties still remain unoccupied in the retail section.

The commercial space is leased through Ackermann Development, who developed the University Station property with Messer Construction, and has no connection to the operation of the apartment space. As Ackermann has been slow to fill the spaces, business is slow to catch on for the retailers. Ramon, the manager of the Gold Star Chili in University Station said that the retailers knew that building the business would be a process.

“We knew what we were getting ourselves into,” Ramon said.

Gold Star shortened business hours recently in an effort to adapt to problems with attracting enough business. Those problems, Ramon said, are connected to the lack of variety of retailers and that the location has yet to catch on as a shopping or eating destination. However, he is still confident that will change.

“Good things take time,” he said.

The businesses have formed an informal weekly meeting. Michael Hubbard, manager of the All-for-One Store and Starbucks for Follett, said they are gathering to share ideas and discuss updates about what the group can do together to improve business. Hubbard involved himself in the process even before University Station was built. He said that there were bumps, but that they are to be expected.

“Of course, we’re eager for a full development, but there are hurdles to it filling up,” Hubbard said.

Despite the bumps, Hubbard said that they have had nothing but positive relations with Ackermann and University Station.

“We love the new space and have seen great results with the store and Starbucks,” he said.

The great results that Follett has experienced likely correlate with its placement on the prominent corner of Dana Avenue and Cleneay Avenue, the side of the building that many more students walk along.

“That’s by design,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard claims as the development continues to grow, the stores are learning to adapt and work together to bring about the best results for the entire group. In the meantime, the empty storefronts stand waiting for someone to move in and help increase the draw of University Station Retailers.