After almost 2 years in business at our original Richmond location, there’s no question that we have a strong relationship with our community. Equally as important, we have an awesome relationship with Eastern Kentucky University. Less than a mile away, our store is wonderfully located within walking distance of campus and has become a go-to location for students. While we work incredibly hard to provide amazing customer service and the perfect styles that our customers are looking for, we cannot deny the impact that the University has played in our brick and mortar success.
A huge reason it has become possible for us to promote Adorabelles directly to students can be credited to the efforts of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce in developing a connection between local businesses and EKU students. Both years we have been in business, the Chamber has hosted the campus event “City Fest,” where businesses are invited to set up vendor booths, pass out information/offers and introduce students to their services for an evening. This event has been taking place for 13 years and is not only fun but a tremendous tool in reaching a large number of students. City Fest helps us expose our brand in a big way to one of our target audiences!
Chamber President Mendi Goble believes, “it is imperative for EKU to buy into the business community in Richmond,” and works to maintain a great partnership with the college. Although the city has not always worked in harmony with EKU, Mendi credits the newly established working relationship to President Michael Benson. “For years it seemed there was a moat around EKU and they basically worked in a vacuum. Since President Benson has come on board I feel as though he has tried to change all of that. At the same time, the Chamber has reached out in a new way to include EKU. We now have a great partnership!”
EKU has made it a priority to work hand-in-hand with local businesses and this initiative continues to be mutually beneficial for both the school and commerce in Richmond. We definitely benefit from the business of students/faculty, which renews itself each year, gaining a new freshmen class and an ever-growing student body. We also benefit from the allowance of EKU to use their campus for promotion. Each year, we visit EKU on the first day of Fall classes and give out treats and discounts to students/faculty to provide a positive way to start out their semester and introduce them to what Adorabelles is all about!
We were most impressed with the University at the beginning of the semester when exposing students to downtown businesses became part of the freshmen orientation week experience. This was the inaugural year for “Colonels Take Downtown” and we hope not the last. As in introduction to both campus and Richmond, EKU brought the majority of the freshmen class downtown to explore the local businesses and restaurants. The importance of this event was not only apparent in the large influx of business during those couple hours, but the long-lasting impact on growing and retaining customer bases for downtown businesses. Restaurants like Café Meeples and Artisan Hot Dogs were full of students who otherwise may have not known their location, hours or what they had to offer. For Adorabelles, it meant attracting new students who now know there is a boutique offering the latest styles (and affordably) within walking distance of campus. Events like Colonels Take Downtown provide one more valuable resource in the never-ending effort of attracting clientele.
We have learned that this is a special exception and consider ourselves quite lucky to have the University as an awesome outlet to promote our brand. Other cities with universities or colleges do not have the same working relationship that is ongoing between Richmond and EKU. In Adorabelles’ efforts to expand, we’ve come to realize that. It is important for students to be provided with opportunities to learn as much as they can about local business and to see that they can get quality products or services from the small businesses of Richmond. Eastern Kentucky University and the Chamber of Commerce have encouraged these endeavors and worked to provide a seamless experience when possible.
While the positive relationship between EKU and local business is, of course, an incredible resource for businesses, it’s useful to the University in several ways as well. Students are better able to find jobs both during and after graduation because they know more about companies in the community. They also benefit from student discounts and promotions put forth by local businesses who are glad to attract and reward business from students. When student organizations/athletics are in need of sponsorship or donations, businesses are more willing to contribute funds and/or products to support the cause. Last and certainly not least, the University is a more fun and exciting destination to attend college because students know about all of the things to do in the community such as where to shop, eat and seek entertainment.
All in all, we are thankful for the huge, positive impact that Eastern Kentucky University has on our business and look forward to growing our relationship in the future. It’s awesome that EKU is not limited to the 892 acres that it sits on in central Richmond, but the entire city serves as one big happy campus.