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Coop Store Expands and Adds New Fresh-Food Market Space

Coop Store

The newly renovated Coop Store.

Visit our Flickr set to see photos from the Coop Store renovation.

The Coop Store underwent a dramatic transformation this summer with an expansion that provides space for a food market and more merchandise. The store has expanded into the Smith Campus Center gallery’s former space next door, so that the store now has two entrances and 50% percent more square footage. The renovated store opened last Sunday in time for the incoming first-year students’ arrival on campus.

The grand reopening will take place during the Smith Campus Center Fall Kick-Off Event on Friday, September 7, 6 pm to 8:30 pm., and will feature raffles from Jansport, Russell Athletic, the Coop Store and Coop Fountain; samples of food and drink items; and music from KSPC DJs, in addition to the SCC Kick-Off activities.

“The basic idea [of the renovation] was to create a market space,” says Coop Store and Fountain Manager Brenda Schmit. “We wanted it to be a like a farm store. That’s something students have requested for years – perishable food items like milk, bread, butter.”

The store will stock fresh and frozen foods; pantry items for cooking and barbecuing; grab-and-go items like salads, sandwiches and wraps made at the Coop Fountain; and a greater variety of snack foods and bottled drinks. There will be cake mixes, eggs and oil, as well, so students can bake in residence hall kitchens.

With more room for logo items, Schmit and her student employees spent the summer finding new apparel designs and items like branded blankets, ear buds and even dog collars. The store now has different department areas for families and alumni, plus a KSPC corner and windows for merchandise displays.

The expansion also focused on improving traffic flow so that lines move faster. “The way the store was before,” says Ellie Ash-Bala, assistant director of Smith Campus Center, “everyone would want to come in and grab their drink before class, but the line [to the cash register] would block the drinks. It was an awkward situation.” Now the command center, i.e., cashier’s station, is situated between the two sets of doors, facing into the store with more room for lines.

Much work was also done to the bones of the store—new lighting, flooring, fixtures with more storage space, refrigeration and freezer units (some donated by vendors), and a new sink area in the back for cleaning. The old fixtures were saved from the landfill by the ReCoop and the Outdoor Education Center.

Plans for the Coop Store changes began in the 2010-11 school year. The original plan was for a facelift, funded by the ASPC. Plans were drawn up but not completed in time for a summer 2011 renovation. ASPC President Nathan Brown ’12 , Vice President Leslie Appleton ’12 and the 2011-12 Senate inherited those plans and expanded upon them.

“I know a lot of students who like to cook, and it's very difficult to get fresh produce, so we thought it might be kind of neat to try and have a small market or a larger refrigerated section available to students,” says Appleton. “When Nate and I took office, a series of plans had already been drawn up, but Brenda and I and a few other students started bouncing around this idea of expanding the Coop.”

The original plans were redeveloped to incorporate the new space and ideas, and the College stepped in to help fund the project’s construction costs. According to Appleton, Schmit was integral to the process. “She chose the materials and colors with me and some of the managers and SCC staff, and has really worked with all parties to make this happen.”

The Coop Store is still a work in progress, with some foods are still being sourced and stocked. The Coop Fountain and Coop Store try to source food locally, working with family-owned businesses in Chino, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland to procure produce and grocery items like fresh milk and baked goods. “As often as possible, we try to work with local and family-owned businesses,” says Schmit.

The expansion also offers new possibilities for collaboration, says Chris Waugh, associate dean of students and director of Smith Campus Center, mentioning that they are eager to work with the Organic Farm, which already sells produce periodically in front of the Store during the school year.

“I think that students are excited about having a better store,” says Appleton. “The remodel will help make the store a lot more cozy, homey and welcoming. I think students will really appreciate having easier access to some produce or ready-made things that are healthier than some of the things we sell in the Coop.”

The Smith Campus Center gallery will reopen in another space in the near future. “We’re committed to identifying a new gallery space in Smith Campus Center. It’s part of the planning process that lies ahead this fall,” says Waugh.