Many students on their college tours decide right away that Ohio University is the right place for them from the small-town community of Athens. The university is heavily intertwined with the city and vice versa. However, many students can't help but wonder why the community of Athens, which heavily relies on students for business, does not have some traditional shopping and eating establishments like other universities that are in small towns.
It has become common to hear many students complain about the lack of these options with phrases like, “How come Athens doesn’t have a Chick-fil-A?” or, “I have to drive 45 minutes to Lancaster to shop at the nearest Target?” The major inconvenience and the fact that similar schools don’t have students driving up to an hour to their favorite spots can be a struggle.
Many students fume with rage when they hear the word “Miami” even uttered in a sentence, but the city of Oxford, which Miami lies in, has many large cities nearby that support various fast-food chains and big box retailers that are not found in the Athens area. The city of Hamilton, which is just a 10-minute drive from Oxford, has many options that can’t be found in Athens, like Chick-fil-A, Target, Skyline Chili, TJ Maxx, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty just to name a few. The major difference between Oxford and Athens is that Oxford is located conveniently near larger major cities, while Athens isn’t located near any large centers of population. However, the city of Athens heavily relies on students for its economy with more than enough students being able to support some of these large chains.
We have recently been given the news that Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers plans to expand into the Athens market. While this is a nice step in the right direction, more work needs to be done to motivate retailers to want to join the Athens market. The small-town feel of Athens is a major reason that brings thousands of students lining up to enroll in Ohio University each year, so more retail options in the city will allow Athens and the university to flourish in the future.