Library Plaza being used as a marketing opportunity

With such a dense population of students Tuesdays and Thursdays in the courtyard, vendors and student organizations compete for passerby’s attention. PHOTO BY RALPH HERNANDEZ| THE SIGNAL

Local businesses are seeing Georgia State’s courtyard as an opportunity to solicit business to students.

Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon – 1 p.m. are the busiest times due to a number of organizations trying to gain members. Vendors are taking advantage as well.

Since the first week of school, vendors swarmed the courtyard to sell products ranging from cell phone service to bundles of hair for weaves.

Spotlight, a student event organization, is a contributor to local businesses through promotion of their products on campus.

Symeria Palmer, marketing co-director of Spotlight, said these vendors are chosen through research conducted by committees or how the company reaches out to the organization.

“Any vendors that come out to most plazas go through the Reservations Office in the Student Center,” she said.

Palmer said Spotlight used Dippin’& Dots and Pretty Lady Lemonade on Sept. 16. Spotlight paid around $250 for each business to come and the food was free for the students.

Some students said due to the plaza’s backpack-to-backpack traffic, vendors aren’t always positive for Georgia State.

Student Lindsey Baker, sophomore, said the campus cannot escape consumerism.

“The vendors are cool in the sense that they’re providing a service for those who want to buy their products, but sometimes it’s obnoxious to constantly be in a marketplace,” Baker said.

However, sophomore Gianna Tajadillo said she supports the vendors and what they have to offer.

“I think they’re really cool. They have a lot of unique things to offer that you don’t normally see in stores,” she said.

Ivan, a vendor and salesman of accessories such as rings and necklaces, said he knows how to keep Georgia State students interested.

“I’ve been doing this for three years. I have low prices because my customers are students,” he said.

Ivan said he is on campus at least twice a week on different days depending on the weather. He has to pay a registration fee for each day he sets up his tent.

An anonymous vendor, who wanted to keep his name private, said he has made a living from selling accessories on different campuses in the South for 15 years and makes an average of $300 to $500 a day.

But this vendor also said the process isn’t always as simple as making pure profit.

“We have to show a business license and reserve a spot. We have to give the school 10 percent of our earnings,” he said. “Business can be hard when there’s bad weather or if students steal.”

Vendors without these permits to sell merchandise have gotten creative in order to entice students into buying their products.

Jordan, a local street artist, set a table up in the Courtyard but does not consider what he’s doing a buyer-seller exchange.

“It’s not soliciting. If people come to the table and want to buy something, they can. But I’m not going around selling anything,” he said.

Jordan can be seen in plaza almost daily promoting his artwork with a laissez-faire business tactic.

Campus organizations on the other hand use plaza-time to market themselves instead of soliciting products and must share the space with students and vendors.

Dani Brown, member of Georgia State’s Alliance For Sexual and Gender Diversity organization, uses the plaza to promote upcoming shows and events.

Dani said the outside vendors are competition for students’ attention but most students do not want to be bothered and walk to class with their headphones in.

“It is very hard to get people’s attention. We mostly have to make them look, hold our arms out for them to grab a flyer,” Brown said.