With both Ma Jolie and El Diner having closed their doors, it appears as though Penn might need to rethink its real estate strategy to accommodate the constantly evolving University community.
Unlike other universities, Penn retail has always had several cards stacked against it. University officials have to cope with everything from the transient nature of the local population to the bad reputation associated with the West Philadelphia location. Amidst such obstacles, Penn has to cater to a broad array of customers. Pricey establishments that serve limited audiences are not sufficient.
A compromise needs to be reached between the range of customers that the University hopes to draw to the area -- from the ritzy city goer to the typical undergraduate. And it is Penn's responsibility to fill retail spaces that meet the needs of both University and neighborhood customers.
Ma Jolie, with its high-priced, trendy women's fashion serviced a very small portion of the population and was simply was not able to lure students in.
Whereas MaJolie failed with its clientele, El Diner, we can assume, never established a concrete workable plan for doing business in University City.
Goldman Properties closed without notice after three months despite a five year contract with the University. After reporting financial problems, they promised to stay in business for a few weeks while a suitable replacement was found--a promise since broken. The diner was never able to find the formula for doing business in Penn's fickle marketplace.
Fry, patronizingly and incorrectly, cast blame on the student body for not frequenting El Diner. The diner's failure must be placed upon itself for not developing a successful business nor fulfilling its agreement with the University.
Now it is time for the University to bring businesses that provide needed services, good service and reasonable prices. With that combination in place, students and local residents alike will flood
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