Business unusual

The cows are not smiling at Chick-fil-A.

This revelation comes despite the influx of USF students who are attending classes at the University Mall.

Store owner Gary Malanowski said while he isn’t sure what the overall impact of classes at the mall will be, the first two weeks have not been encouraging.

“If I look at sales it’s probably too early to tell,” Malanowski said. “(But) we just really haven’t seen the increase we’d hoped for yet.”

Chick-fil-A was one of several businesses that placed advertisements in packets given to students at the mall. Malanowski said those advertisements have yet to prove effective.

“We distributed our cards for free samples,” he said. “We haven’t seen a big redemption of those yet.”

Malanowski said he believes that part of the problem lies in the fact that USF has cut some classes that were scheduled for mall classrooms. He said those cuts may have affected student business in the mall.

“Originally I’d heard 3,700 students were going to be here. Now I hear 1,700,” he said. “That’s a significant difference.”Malanowski said in addition to less students than originally expected, the mall seems to have lost business to new malls in the area.

“A lot of normal traffic might have gone (to other malls),” he said.

Tom Locke, general manager for the University Mall, said allowing USF to use the movie theaters is good for mall business.

“From our standpoint it’s great having students over here,” Locke said. “Just having students is good for the mall.”

Locke said when USF was originally looking for extra lecture hall space, the school had considered the now-closed Carmike Cinemas behind the Kash ‘n Karry shopping center adjacent to the University Mall. He said because the Carmike theaters no longer had seats or audio equipment, USF officials contacted the mall, and a deal for usage was made.

Locke said he believes classes at the mall are beneficial for both USF and mall businesses.

“(Having classes here) saved money for the state, and it’s good for the mall,” he said.

Locke said the mall offers students the benefit of shopping after class and having employment close at hand.

“If kids are looking for a part-time job, the mall (is a good place),” he said.

Ersilia Burchete, manager for Sam Goody, said she was pleased when the mall announced plans to host USF classes. She said, unlike Malanowski’s trouble, the new classes have been beneficial for her store, which is located on the mall’s second level directly across from the mall movie theaters.

“I think we’ve noticed a few more students here in the store,” she said. “It is most definitely (good for business).”

Sam Goody, like Chick-fil-A, gave students advertisements and coupons for discount video games in their packets. Burchete said she is hopeful these coupons will encourage student shopping.

“We wanted to offer (students) a little something (to encourage them) to shop here after class,” she said.

Burchete said the mall made a good decision to allow classes, and increased students will be beneficial to vendors. As for her store, she said the current economy and state of the nation has not hurt her business very much.

“I don’t think (we’re hurting) any more than anybody else,” she said.

  • Contact Rob Brannonat