UA students get to know Akron through Zips Invade


Invade2.jpegThe University of Akron campus is so well integrated into the City of Akron that in some areas it’s hard to tell where UA ends and downtown begins.

The proximity allows students many opportunities to explore their community.

One way students can get acquainted with theCity is through Zips Invade. Held a few times each semester, Zips Invade uses social media to drive students to downtown businesses in exchange for a free or discounted item. Students show their Zip Card, receive a treat and get to know their community, while businesses benefit from increased social media followers and, hopefully, return customers.

Zips Invade is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation which, among its many community efforts, is focused on revitalizing downtown Akron and strengthening residents’ attachment to the City.

The program has sent students to “invade” popular downtown spots such as Diamond Deli, the Peanut Shoppe, Akron Coffee Roasters and Chill Ice Cream — all places that are walkable from the UA campus. Some of the Zips Invade events have brought more than 300 students into downtown businesses — certainly a huge single-day bump in customers that could generate repeat business over time.

A recent Zips Invade was held at Essential Dipped Delights, a business located in Northside Market. Owner Takila Nuss invited students to choose from several sweets, including chocolate-covered strawberries, brownies or cookies.

When UA reached out to Nuss about partnering for a Zips Invade event, she was thrilled. UA students are among her regular customers, and she frequently receives orders from students’ parents looking to send their child a sweet treat for a birthday, Valentine’s Day or other occasion.

Invade.jpeg“I’m always excited when someone takes an interest in the business and what we do because every outlet, whether it’s social media or something else, is an opportunity to reach customers,” Nuss said. “I’m excited to be able to be part of that and to be connected with students and people who are interested in possibly one day being their own boss.”

JP Garchar, president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and an Akron native, said Zips Invade has taken him to businesses he never before visited.

“Akron has so much to offer, everything from nationally renowned national parks to historic restaurants,” said Garchar. “Students should be given every opportunity to take advantage of this and, with Zips Invade, I feel it’s making it easier to do just that.” 

Story by Jessica Whitehill