Inside Look: Campus Retail

Colleges and universities providing students’ retail needs right on campus

Whether it’s purchasing textbooks every semester or meeting daily needs such as meals, snacks or health and beauty aids, students who find the right dining and retail stores on campus have a better college experience.

Many higher ed institutions are adding shops and brand-name eateries, as well as renovating bookstores to keep up with current technology trends.

Those trends include selling more devices, having a retail chain on campus and adding technology repair areas similar to Apple’s Genius Bar, says Jeff Pavic, vice president for channel development for the National Association of College Stores.

“Lots of schools are looking to improve retention rates by bringing the products students need to campus. It brings them a sense of comfort and convenience,” Pavic says. “Overall, it’s key to pay attention to your demographics and find items and brands that resonate with your campus.”

While larger colleges and universities often have a lot more space for retail—even roomy department stores—smaller schools can transform a single bookstore or retail operation into more of an academic support center, Pavic says.

To get more traffic, a number of campus stores have added services like print shops and even dry cleaning, he says. Mini pop-up stores that offer seasonal items, such as dorm supplies in the fall and formal interview clothes in the spring, have also become popular. With the demand for textbooks on the decline, campus bookstores have also transformed space into lounge areas, cafes and meeting rooms, Pavic adds.

The goal for any retail space is to support the academic mission of the institution while also serving its students. The following examples exemplify these trends.

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