Campus Corner, a well-known ASU retail and convenience shop, has managed to survive the meltdown of small business closures in Tempe, specifically near Mill Avenue.
Campus Corner has two locations minutes from each other in town, one on the corner of University Drive and College Avenue and the other on Mill Avenue and Sixth Street.
The need for two shops just blocks from each other might not be apparent to most, but the owner Mike Jennings said each store has its own personality and type of customer.
One store sees the majority of its traffic during the peak business hours with a morning crowd stopping in the corner shop on their way to work or class. The other tends to pick up in the late afternoon, buzzing into the evening with the bar and club scene.
“The College Avenue store opens earlier catering to students, faculty and staff with classes on the Tempe campus,” Jennings said.
During the school year, the crosswalk at University Drive and College Avenue is like a major highway with a continuous stream of people coming from all directions, which makes for the perfect site for a convenience shop.
Jennings opened the first location on College Avenue in 1989 after moving from Illinois where he had worked at a chain of campus stores called Discount Den.
When I moved to Tempe and opened this new store, I named it for its location just “on the corner of campus, Jennings said.
Jennings said the most common purchases during the school day are snacks, drinks and convenience items. Campus Corner alsoadvertises affordable priced ASU T-shirts, which are great purchase for home football games.
Jennings said he really makes it his goal to listen to customer’s needs and wants. He uses price surveys to compete with bigger chain stores in town, like CVS and QuikTrip.
The second Campus Corner opened four years later on Mill Avenue, on a popular corner that Jennings said is in a high rent zone, but is worth it.
The customers that frequent this store are usually employees of Mill Avenue, tourists and students. This store sells a lot of ASU gifts and apparel to out-of-towners and fuels the surrounding local employees with beverages, goodies and basic necessities.
Mill Avenue store has a lot of foot traffic at night and during events, but at night the College Avenue store is quieter and slows down.
Jennings said he wished he didn’t have to deal with the criminal element of being in downtown Tempe.
“We have shoplifters at both stores,” he said. “But I learned you really have to stay on top of running the business.” Jennings works diligently to pay attention to each shop to avoid making costly mistakes.
Campus Corner has been in Tempe for 22 years and will continue to thrive with the support of local residents.
“Tempe has become my home and I don’t think I would want to leave,” he said.
Jennings also participates in the Tempe Leadership Program, which is partnered with the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, helping to connect with others and make a difference in the community of Tempe.
712 S. College Ave- 7:30 a.m. to 10p.m.
603 S. Mill Ave- 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.