By Andy Devine, Contributing Writer 

UMF University Store employees tabling in the Student Center. (Photo Courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

UMF University Store employees tabling in the Student Center. (Photo Courtesy of Courtney Fowler)

Updated merchandise and a hopes of a new location are among the changes underway at the University Store this year. Following extensive research of customer preferences, these plans are part of a larger project to keep business fresh, compete with electronic book sales, and make available the products and apparel the UMF community is most interested in.

Since joining the Store team this past July, new manager Aimee DeGroat has spearheaded the project to revamp and rebrand the University Store. DeGroat stated that change in the ways students purchase textbooks requires the University Store to keep up to date and stay competitive amongst other options. “We need to grow and change as the world does, DeGroat stated.”

Offering new products, working with more students, further outreach to the community, and strengthening the the social media approach to the store are just some of the methods staff are using to build business up in the coming months. While the store will have a new website up and running in a short time, according to DeGroat, one major long term goal is relocating the store to a larger location for a more comfortable atmosphere.

“This project is certainly an ongoing effort and has just begun to take off,” wrote UMF senior and University Store Intern, Courtney Fowler, in an email interview. “The store is not necessarily pushing for ‘new’, but simply, to be more in touch with our customers,” Fowler explained. “After extensive research, we found that our customers prefered more trendy and affordable options, as well as a greater variety in merchandise.”

Fowler continued, “We also found that many people on campus unfortunately do not know what the University Store offers, primarily because they do not visit the store at all. Our hope is that we can attract more customers to the store by becoming more involved in the UMF community and offering promotions on many of the new products.”

While any business will continually work to keep themselves in the attention of it’s buyers, the University Store has another challenge to overcome. Around the country, universities are closing down on-campus retail stores due to a drop in clientele. As textbook and apparel prices skyrocket, students look elsewhere for their course requirements.

All around the United States, university owned and local bookstores have been closing their doors over the last 5-10 years. With print becoming a fading industry, bookstores struggle to keep afloat in the digital era. Earlier this semester the Farmington Flyer published an article on local used-book store Twice Sold Tales, in which the owner stated that recently a successful business year for them brought in only $500.

University Store hours can be found on location or at their website through mycampus. Employees can also be found in the Student Center selling merchandise and offering new promotions throughout the semester.