Self-service stores a growing campus trend
To meet the modern college student’s need for late-night munchies or grocery items, self-service vending stores have begun popping up on some campuses. One of the newest such store is SUNY Old Westbury’s Shop24, which opened this fall and serves the campus’ 4,400 students.
Located near the Woodland residence halls, Shop24 is a self-contained, automated convenience store that sells up to 200 different nationally branded snacks, freshly made food products, home goods, health and beauty aids, and technology items such as chargers. Students can purchase many items at once and can use cash, credit/debit cards, or Old Westbury’s meal plan flex-dollars.
Charlie Schmidt, the director of public relations for the National Association of College Stores, says self-service stores can help institutions make up revenue lost from the decline in on-campus textbook sales. “These stores don’t take up much space, have a simple concept, and are very low risk,” Schmidt says. “College students are notoriously not 9 to 5, and having 24/7 services better fits their schedule.”
Shop24 currently has locations at 10 campuses nationwide, with another 30 slated for installation within the next 12 months. There are eight locations outside higher education in the US and 200 throughout Europe. Another company in the space is Newton, a UK-based start-up, with just two locations so far, both in Europe.
Shop24 was a great addition to Old Westbury because there isn’t a 24/7 convenience store on campus or within walking distance, says Arthur Angst, associate vice president for business compliance.
“One of the problems for us was the inability to staff a small, convenient store that would be open all day, every day,” Angst says. “Shop24 allows our students to get whatever they want, whenever they want in a way that’s also very cost effective for the school.”
After purchasing the Shop24 unit, Old Westbury partnered with vending company Canteen to stock the unit with fresh food, Angst says.
Regular student surveys will help ensure that the vending store stocks what the population needs.