Located less than five miles away from Michigan State University, Eastwood Towne Center attracts more shoppers than just Spartans and Lansing natives.
Haley Garr, a sophomore at Central Michigan University, said that Eastwood is one of two large-scale shopping centers including Midland Mall that CMU students routinely travel to on the weekends.
“The shopping scene in Mount Pleasant is very minimal, we don’t really have any stores and the ones that we do have are all pretty similar,” Garr said. “Mount Pleasant has large scale stores like Meijer, Walmart and Target, but its a lot of the same things everywhere.”
According to Garr, CMU students are willing to travel about 60 miles to shop at Eastwood’s trendier clothing stores like Forever 21, American Eagle and Victoria’s Secret. Even though Midland mall is within a closer proximity to CMU, she claims that Eastwood offers more options.
Placewise Media is the digital media provider for Eastwood Towne Center and are responsible for researching it’s marketing strategies.
Emily Deroschers, the general manager of Eastwood Towne Center is in charge of driving foot traffic and sales at Eastwood.
“Eastwood Towne Center’s core customer is women ages 18 to 55,” Desrochers said. “However, because of the retail and restaurant offerings at the center we area also a draw for men.”
According to CMU’s website the male-to-female student ratio is about 45 percent to 55 percent. But, the student demographic isn’t where Placewise focuses all of it’s attention.
“The majority of our traffic comes from the mid-Michigan area within a 45-mile radius due to our unique tenant offering like Sephora and Forever 21,” Derochers said.
Michigan State Retailing Professor Patricia T. Huddleston said that these individual stores are likely to target students via print ads and social media.
“Typically, shopping malls do not do a lot of promotions to specific target markets, such as students,” Huddleston said. “Rather, they are likely to promote special events or create ads to raise awareness of the tenant mix, such as department stores, restaurants, and movie theaters to entice shoppers.”
According to the retail real estate firm SHOP Companies, Eastwood includes a nationally-known tenant mix that is exclusive to the market, despite it taking them a few years to become a cohesive experience.
“Eastwood is really targeted towards the neighbors and affluence in Lansing,” SHOP cos. specialist, Brittney Freed said. “I don’t see it as a regional draw, but I do see it as the best in class shopping experience in the trade.”
According to Sephora’s manager, Xue Yang, the store sees a trend of shoppers from both the CMU student population and older residents from the mid-Michigan area.
“Since we are located in the middle of Grand Rapids and Detroit a lot of regulars who are in their early 30s to 50s will travel about an hour to shop here,” Yang said.
“I’ve also noticed that a lot of college aged women from smaller surrounding colleges like CMU travel here to purchase their makeup products.”
Not all CMU students choose to travel to shopping malls for their purchases. CMU freshman Heather Pennington chooses to utilize online shopping to make quicker purchases.
“Since there really aren’t any clothing stores that appeal to students in Mount Pleasant, most people I know prefer just to online shop,” Pennington said.
However, Huddleston believes that millienal consumers of which students comprise a large part of this generation, still enjoy the in-store shopping experience.
“While this [millennial] group shops online too, they are more likely to make a trip to the mall to shop,” Huddleston said. “For example, a poll before the 2016 shopping season found that millenia’s were more likely to visit a store than baby boomers or Gen X.”
CMU students like Garr are ready for the city of Mount Pleasant to prioritize the construction of more shopping centers that appeal to the college’s 26,080 student population.
“I think [a shopping center] would be really profitable, since there are so many college students here during the school year as well as during the summer months,” Garr said.