The original Scotty’s Brewhouse served Muncie for 20 years — it was the starting place of the restaurant chain. But, this winter, the original Scotty’s Brewhouse closed.
Cleo’s, Dill Street Bar and Grill, The Locker Room, Two Cats Cafe, Let’s Spoon Frozen Yogurt and Grandma Betty’s have also closed in the Village — making for at least seven closed businesses in the last five years.
That seems to be the norm, said Derek Edwards, owner of White Rabbit Used Books in the Village. Businesses often pop up or leave the Village, he said.
“I’ve been here 30 years now and I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go,” Edwards said. “It seems to be the natural progression of the Village.”
Despite this, Edwards said he doesn’t see turnover as a problem.
Turnover is “extremely common,” especially in college towns, said Michael Hicks, director of the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research. While some businesses appear for a short time, he said others become landmarks.
“Most business don’t survive very long,” Hicks said. “In a college town, you should expect bars and restaurants and clothing stores and the like to have a fairly high turnover rate.”
It takes the right combination of services, prices and product to make businesses like The Chug a consistent figure in a college town, he said.
Students as the main source of business means the local community is constantly being changed, Hicks added. Businesses have to keep up with shifting consumer wants.
Edwards said in his experience, businesses typically close if businesses overlap in services or are mismanaged.
When the internet became the norm, Edwards said he had to learn to adjust to the shifting environment in a college town. Books became easily available online, so Edwards learned to keep a varied selection of books with low prices.
Businesses need to be flexible and have a good product to survive in a college town, said John Melns, manager at The Cup.
The Cup, which has been in the Village for eight years, sees the most students in the fall. While college students don’t swarm shops year round, he said they provide a huge income in the fall and late spring.
Melns attributes The Cup’s long-running success to its service, environment and coffee. If businesses provide “a consistent and good product,” he said college students can be great for profit.