For anyone who lives or works in the Oaks, an apartment complex in Storrs Center, it does not come as a surprise that two establishments, Froyo World and Sweet Emotions, have declared that they will be selling their store stock at reduced prices and closing doors permanently.
Citing high lease and decreased customers during summer months, the math did not add up and the businesses have been forced to close. Uncompromising during months of light traffic, Oaks building owners demanded the same premium rent rates year-round.
While a frozen yogurt store might have a difficult time drawing large profit margins at a university known for its ice cream and a candy store can only hope to draw a niche clientele from a collegiate population, both shops offered diversity to the largely similar cuisine offered by other stores in Storrs Center, as well as job opportunities for students.
With the future of UConn so unclear, apartment owners, particularly those at the Oaks must be keenly aware of student needs. Tuition will undoubtedly increase in the coming years which will not only draw less students to the school, but also decrease the price students will be willing to pay for “premium” housing.
The business models of apartment complexes are different around UConn. Older complexes draw students in because they are cheaper than on-campus housing. The Oaks, however, draw students because they offer nicer rooms but this comes with a price tag that is more expensive than all other options. If tuition was to rise, less students would want to pay this premium rate.
Further, if building managers continue to force stores to close their doors, some reasons for prospective students to commit to attend the university would vanish. It seems foolish to expect the same rent rate month after month from small businesses when upwards of 20,000 potential customers disappear for four months of the year.
Building managers around UConn must reevaluate their business models, particularly with budget cuts and tax increases that will come from Hartford in the coming months. As the State of Connecticut tries to balance its budget, companies and businesses must balance their own to stay out of the red. High rent rates at a college where all of the students are trying to save as much money as possible is not a smart plan.