The C-Store Goes to College

What do you think of when you hear the word, “university”? Craggy, white-haired faculty wearing tweedy sport coats with elbow patches? Row after row of dusty tomes in musty libraries? Big-time athletic programs? The Greek life? Students on Saturday nights in various states of um, er, “finding themselves”?

Well, yeah, sure, all of these are part of daily campus life to some extent, but since you’re reading this blog, we bet you know we’re overlooking one thing: the C-Store.

We’re not really sure exactly when it happened, but the C-Store has risen to prominence on campus, indicative of the broadening of its appeal through fresher, healthier choices and a general expansion of offerings. Students still want their chip and soda fix and are always on the lookout for the latest, best deals on adult beverages, but colleges also carry with them a built-in demand for vegetarian offerings, world cuisines and complete pre-packaged meals for those without ready access to stoves, traditional ovens and refrigerators. The appeal of these stores is often enhanced by loyalty programs and other marketing innovations like pre-paid cards that allow students to purchase items with no added sales tax.

To celebrate this trend—after all, every C-Store owner appreciates a captive audience and a campus certainly provides that—here are some links to the college stores we’ve run across during our travels across the Internet. Though we selected locations that had a photo of the store in question, we also found it somewhat interesting to see the modern, fresh,—and in some cases—socially conscious image universities are adopting in an effort to get their students to visit the campus C-Store.

Union Exchange Central at the University of Connecticut does a nice job of making itself seem relevant and vital by staging contests and promotions tied into football games, skateboard giveaways and other prizes attractive to students.

The Malone Fresh Market on the campus Loyola Marymount College in Southern California is a quintessential example of how the message of responsible sustainability can be made relevant directly to a C-Store business.

The spacious Worcester Market at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester is particularly inviting.

The University of Minnesota has four, count ’em, four attractive modern C-Stores from which their students can be “driven to discover”.

The spacious C-Store on the University of San Diego campus explicitly touts its selection of vegetarian items, environmentally responsible foods and sundries, and globally diverse/ethnic items.

The featured cuisine at Banana Joe’s Quick Mart on the University of Santa Cruz looks absolutely mouth-watering.

Last but not least, here’s a link that contains an in-depth look at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa’s two new C-Store concepts.

Do a little digging, and I’m sure you’ll find many other campuses that proving to be leaders in innovation, not only in education, but in the deployment of modern C-Store model. You know how they refer to the “Freshman 15″—the inevitable 15 pounds a student puts on when they first move away to school? Well, with all these wonderful fresh and healthy choices, there’s really no excuse for that any more.