Freshman journalism major Patrick Ryan was one of 23 people recently laid off from the Urban Outfitters at CityScape. Including Ryan, 10 ASU students had their jobs terminated.
Ryan said he was never told his position was temporary.
“If it’s true, I’d be very disappointed that there was such a lack of communication between the hiring managers and employees,” Ryan said. “And (I) definitely do not think that’s fair to all of us who were under the impression we had a steady job to rely on throughout college.”
Ryan worked a total of five days and rearranged his spring semester schedule to allow for more time to work. Then he received an e-mail terminating him and 22 others because sales projections for the store were lower than expected.
“I just think it’s downtown — honestly there isn’t a whole lot going on down here,” Ryan said. “It’s not like there’s busloads of tourists just itching to explore Phoenix, and the business people who work downtown don’t exactly fit the store’s demographic.”
The recent layoffs from Urban Outfitters are not an indication of CityScape’s progress, according to George Olander, a finance professor from the W.P. Carey School of Business.
Olander said it was a poor choice for Urban Outfitters to put a store at CityScape in the first place since CitysScape needs more apartments and condominiums around it.
“Who lives there?” Olander said. “It’s kind of a Catch-22 thing. People won’t live there until there’s retail. But retail won’t come until people live there.”
Olander pointed out that the problem is downtown and its inability to attract permanent residents.
“They don’t have housing for it, they don’t have the nightlife for it,” Olander said. “If you go to downtown Phoenix, you have parking issues, you have transportation issues. It’s kind of isolated to a degree.”
Sophomore nursing major Jenny Gladstone said CityScape’s location contributes to its emptiness.
“A lot of people say it’s dead here,” Gladstone said. “I just think there’s a certain type of crowd it attracts. It’s probably a hard location.”
Gladstone said she applied for jobs at several places in CityScape only to hear that stores weren’t hiring because they weren’t receiving enough business.
Another problem facing CityScape is that no one knows about it and that prices are too high, Gladstone said.
“I haven’t seen any advertising for CityScape,” she said. “They could put a lot more things on sale to try to get more customers.”
The high prices probably keep students away from retailers like Urban Outfitters, Gladstone said. She goes to Urban Outfitters at least once a month and said the store is usually empty.
A current Urban Outfitters employee who wished to remain anonymous said the downtown location is not as busy as other locations.
“I don’t know if it’s downtown Phoenix in general because it’s not like a shopping destination,” the employee said. “It’s a lot of commercial buildings. People, when they’re here, they’re working and as soon as that’s over, they go.”
When asked about the recent layoffs, the employee said that they were only temporary employees hired for the holiday season. He also said that these employees were informed of their temporary status prior to hiring.
David Roderique, president of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, said CityScape will be more successful after more retailers open. The opening of more stores and restaurants were held back due to difficulties getting permits, and construction was taking longer than expected.
“Once the entire complex is done and once all the pieces are there it will be a better attraction,” Roderique said. “If you add all these pieces people will have a greater reason to go.”
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