If there’s one thing many college students could use when the stress of classes gets to be overwhelming, it’s a little retail therapy. So where can you go to find those perfect heels or a new video game when you’re on a college student’s budget? The answer is less than five miles southwest of Gannon at the Millcreek Mall.

Many students attending Gannon don’t realize what a valuable local resource this mall is. The approximately 2.6 million square foot building, often cited as the fourth largest shopping mall in United States, has over 175 stores and restaurants. The stores range in variety from clothing to entertainment to professional attire/equipment and encompass just about everything in between. No matter what you’re searching for, you’re likely to find it all at the mall.

A common misconception about malls and similar large shopping complexes are that they overprice their merchandise compared to some shopping centers like Wal-Mart. Although some of the well-known brand name stores like Abercrombie & Fitch or Buckle may cost you a pretty penny, many stores like Rue21 and Charlotte Russe have clearance sales, rewards cards and discounts for students on a regular basis. It’s also an attraction for many out-of-state shoppers, since Pennsylvania doesn’t have a tax on clothing. It’s easy to walk out of the mall with bags of new clothes for under $100, or even just a cute new shirt for five dollars or less.

For those students who do not have their own car on campus, Erie has a public transportation service known as the “e,” equipped with a plethora of buses that transport Gannon students for free. There’s a bus stop right on campus and the routes go all around the city, including the mall. Bus schedules for the routes near campus can also be found in most Gannon buildings.

Numerous groups on Gannon’s campus take advantage of having this large community center so close. The Greeks often use the mall as a venue for raising money for charitable organizations: the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has helped raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network by selling coupon booklets for mall stores and the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority has raised money for the National Kidney Foundation by putting on their annual Rock-A-Thon. The girls rock in rocking chairs in the mall’s lobbies for hours to get donations.

Not only is the mall a fun and relaxing way to blow off some steam, it’s a priceless resource for students on Gannon’s campus, so take a break from hitting the books and hit up the Millcreek Mall.

Looking for other cool places to shop in Erie? Read about Grasshopper and Glass Growers Gallery.

-photos by Carly Lyons