GCC students help Thornes build brand

  • Marketing students from Greenfield Community College used Thornes Marketplace in Northampton as a case study this spring. Daily Hampshire Gazette/Carol Lollis

For the Gazette
Published: 6/25/2017 7:09:43 PM

GREENFIELD — Here’s a prime example of how to turn a marketing class project into a job.

This spring, Sierra Myers, a Northampton native, created a new Instagram account for Thornes Marketplace as part of a group project for a Greenfield Community College marketing class. The social media page is filled with pictures and followers from the ground up for the well-known Main Street shopping spot, which did not have an Instagram page before this.

She and her classmates recently presented their project to Thornes management.

“As I was doing my presentation and I was like, ‘So you guys now have this Instagram account,’” Myers said. “And then I was like, ‘or you could just have me run it.’”

Thornes decided to take up Myers on her offer, and Myers is now spending her summer as an intern at the marketplace, before she moves on to attending Bay State College in Boston to study marketing and fashion merchandising.

For Myers though, this summer is more than just an opportunity to show how she can help bring in new, young customers to the businesses, while building the brand of Thornes.

“It’s been one of my dreams to work at Thornes,” said Myers, 26.

The class, led by professor Tina Stevens, was tasked to review a local business, like an agency would normally do. This year Stevens’ “Principles of Marketing” class elected to do its case study on Thornes, which welcomed feedback from the 15 marketing students.

The business sought out suggestions from the GCC students, based on data and research applied to in-house assessments, to address Thornes’ chief difficulty lately: increasing foot traffic on its various floors.

“It’s important that they learn those concepts and I think in this class you could really see they learned the concepts and applied it,” Stevens said. “They owned it and they used it, and that’s how they found their solutions.”

Myers, among her peers, found different strategies to help the building that was first created as the McCallum’s Dry Goods store in 1873, and later became a department store. Now, it hosts many shops under the Thornes roof.

Marketing is currently run by Jody Doele, who Stevens knows from the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Doele embraced the suggestions from the students.

“While we expected to gain an insight or two from the process, we didn’t anticipate the quality and abundance of feedback received,” Doele said in a statement. “The experience wound up being a very illuminating and energizing one for our management team.”

Doele also has quickly become a mentor of Myers.

“She has so much on her plate. She is a very inspiring woman,” Myers said.

“She does all of the marketing. She is constantly running around. She really holds Thornes in the palm of her hand.”

And the same could be said for Stevens, who Myers also praised.

“She is the best professor. She definitely inspired me and helped me to hone in on my passion and what I want to do,” Myers said. “It is important for women empowering women.”

Stevens said that, when walking through Thornes recently, she saw Myers.

“Are you marketing?” Stevens asked.

“Yes!” Myers replied.

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