How student consumers control Red Hill’s economy

Students enjoy their food outside of Peets Coffee at lunch.
Students enjoy their food outside of Peet’s Coffee at lunch.
Carina Ridella

Red Hill Shopping Center is a popular place for teens in Marin to spend their time and money. It is made up of 22 businesses, nine of which offer food and drinks for purchase. According to data collected from Archie Williams students, an average Archie student will go to Red Hill just under 4 times a week, spending between $5.00 and $20.00 every time they go. On top of students going to Red Hill to dine, many also go to socialize. 

Students walk around Redhill on the way back to school. (Carina Ridella)

Archie William’s open campus allows students to go off campus for lunch, and Red Hill Shopping Center is less than a 15-minute walk from school. Both The Hub and Swirl Frozen Yogurt have worked to create student-associated discounts and specials to attract more customers. During lunchtime on Tuesdays, Swirl offers students half-off frozen yogurt, and The Hub has a 10-dollar student deal available any day of the week during school lunch hours. Other restaurants like Pizzalina and Safeway offer lunch specials for customers of any age.

“We have price cuts [during] student lunch because we want to attract young people that come [so that they] buy ice cream,” said Archie Williams senior and Swirl employee Donovan Connelly.

Popular burger joint, The Hub, is located in the middle of the Red Hill Shopping Center. The Hub’s managing partner Gerry Bugas says that the restaurant has capitalized on its proximity to the Archie Williams campus. During Archie Williams’s lunch break, The Hub offers a student lunch special consisting of a burger with three toppings, fries, and a drink for $10. Offering discounts and an inviting atmosphere, students are drawn to the restaurant. 

Freshmen Alex Rodskog and Allie P-K chat and enjoy their food at Redhill. (Carina Ridella)

“[Students] come in and take advantage of the Archie Williams Meal Deal and enjoy our food so much that they often return for dinner in the evenings and weekends,” Bugas said.

These discounts appeal to students while giving businesses a financial advantage. When there is competition between businesses for customers, these deals and specials can often be a determining factor when it comes to a student deciding where to eat. However, some students still opt for more expensive options. Given the cost of a substantial lunch, students can easily spend over $10 on a meal.

Students wait in line to get lunch at High Tech Burrito. (Zoe Levy)

 “I would say most of my money goes towards Red Hill. If I’m going to Red Hill two to three times a week and spending $15 each time, that’s a lot of money,” said Archie Williams freshman Alex Rodskog

In an attempt to cut down on her spending, Alex utilizes deals to save money. Of the many options available for students during lunch, Alex’s favorite is Swirl’s half-off frozen yogurt on Tuesdays.   

“I don’t have a whole bunch of money, so when I can get food easier and for cheaper, I’ll go to the cheaper place,” Alex said.

To attract students and generate more income, some businesses have also focused on creating an environment that appeals to high schoolers. The Hub has created a space that is open to all students, even those who don’t purchase food from there. Because of this, The Hub is a common spot for teenagers to hang out, during and after lunch. 

“People bring in different food that I typically wouldn’t allow, but I don’t mind it for students. They are allowed to come in and enjoy the patio and eat with their friends,” Bugas said.

Two students enjoy their food from Hot Wok, as others head into Peet’s Coffee. (Carina Ridella)

Although school lunch is a driving factor of Red Hills’ income, students continue to visit during the weekend as well. Its location at the center of San Anselmo has made Red Hill a place for students in the surrounding area to get together outside of school hours. Archie Williams freshman Allie Pack-Kelly goes to Red Hill often. 

“I go to Red Hill a lot because it’s closer [to my house]… which makes getting food easier,” Allie said.

The impact that students have on Red Hill cannot be overlooked. Through spending habits during both lunch and outside of school, Red Hill thrives off of its student consumers. Simultaneously, students enjoy the teenager-friendly atmosphere and deals the businesses strive to provide for them.

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