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Success of Campus Store reflects campus involvement and an entrepreneurial student spirit

Aug 30, 2019

Students help guide decisions about sales, merchandising and social media

When the textbooks disappeared from the former Book Store last summer, it signaled a shift to a whole new vision for a Campus Store. As North Central College assumed operation of the retail store, it opened the door for students to play an integral role in its success.

The student staff soon became trusted merchandise advisors to Store Manager Emerald Beston, who transitioned from Follett to working for the College. “With the books removed, we capitalized on the opportunity to broaden the inventory and fill the space,” she said. “My real goal is to see more students with North Central clothing on campus.”

A display of the official North Central College student shirt.

The Campus Store helps students show solidarity and pride with "The Shirt," the official student T-shirt for the academic year.

Students get a dose of running a business

The students took over the store’s Instagram account, helped with merchandising and took pride in selling the many new styles. “All day long, we can point at this or that in the store and confidently tell students ‘you’ll like it’,” said Ben Ubert ’19, who worked at the store for four years and like others, gained valuable job experiences. “We saw what was coming in and we were excited about selling it.”

Beston has listened to students’ advice, adding a wider range of designs and price points. “I’m always trying to determine the best strategy for pricing,” she said. “And I like to learn what faculty and staff want to see more of.”

She’s also gotten input from the Alumni Board and athletics department to ensure everyone on campus can find something appealing. The Campus Store now carries items for tailgaters and athletic fans, more children’s clothing for alumni families, bandanas for pets and practical student gear like hats, rain wear and winter socks. North Central’s version of an annual T-shirt design represents another creative campus promotion.

North Central College and Campus Store alumnus Benjamin Ubert.

Ben Ubert '19

Faculty events draw crowds and help students drive business

A series of faculty speakers last year brought in people who may not have otherwise shopped in the Campus Store. For fall semester, Beston already has scheduled events featuring five faculty members. The series begins on Wednesday, September 18, at 4 p.m., with Gregory Wolf, Dennis and Jean Bauman Professor in the Humanities and professor of German. He’ll discuss his book about the history of Wrigley Field, told through 100 great games played there, along with his role as co-director of the BiographyProject for the Society for American Baseball Research, known popularly as SABR.

In the meantime, Ubert has left his post at the store for an AmeriCorps position with Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford, Ill. He feels the Campus Store gave him a very broad and beneficial experience working with the public and complemented his major in history major and minors in business and environmental studies.

“I loved all the people I got to interact with, including parents coming in and asking me questions about their students’ major,” he said. “This was the best job on campus.”