Story by Ashley Traylor, Contributing writer
Businesses in downtown Murray are encouraging college students to visit small businesses downtown to help their profits.
Mary Black, owner of Mary’s Bistro, and Eran Guse, co-owner of Wild Mountain Bakery, suggest that college students are not coming downtown because of its proximity to campus.
“I do not go downtown because I do not have car,” said Ardee Allen, senior from Murray. “The only time I have to go down there is when I have a carpool to do recycling. That is the only reason I go downtown.”
Black of Mary’s Bistro said most students stay on the north side of town because it is more convenient. It is easier for students to walk somewhere if they live on-campus. For those who live off-campus, it is not convenient to drive a mile downtown.
Mary’s Bistro was located on the North end of Murray as Mary’s Kitchen for six years, but moved downtown in June. Black said the restaurant has not seen as many college students since the location change.
“The few we get are generally die-hard Mary fans,” Black said. “When we were across town, we got a lot of students there. They will come here specifically for a specific thing to eat. They are die-hard fans. That’s the ones we see.”
Guse of Wild Mountain Bakery suggests that students do not want to lose their parking spot by driving downtown, especially since parking on campus is very limited.
“A college shuttle to downtown might help,” Guse said. “If the college did offer some kind of shuttle, I do not know how students would respond to that and whether it would be cost-effective to do it. It is a difficult question of how we can get them in here.”
Allen agrees that a shuttle is a good option to draw more attention to the downtown area and it would give international and out-of-state students a chance to see the culture of downtown Murray.
“I think a shuttle would get people downtown,” said Morgan Cash, sophomore from Fancy Farm, Kentucky. “Right now students just go to whatever is in walking distance. If they had something to get them down there, then they would jump on that opportunity.”
Guse said another problem is that college students are on a limited budget.
“The dollar menu at McDonald’s could be more appealing to a college student living on a budget,” Guse said. “We understand that here. We cannot compete with that.”
However, Black said her prices are the same as they were when her business was located on the North side of town.
“I think some of the college students may be intimidated by the way the place looks because they are used to rowdy sport bars,” Black said. “This is classy. It scares them.”
Allen and Cash both agree businesses downtown need to advertise more, but Guse said he has not found an inexpensive way to advertise his business.
Allen suggests businesses from downtown should come to campus and advertise.
“Qdoba came and offered half a burrito for free to anybody who wanted one,” Allen said. “I have heard people talking about it since then. Small bits of something positive to put into people’s mind so it is not just a flier with their name on it, but some essence of who they are.”
“I would love to have the college students downtown and I think they would like it,” Guse said.