Students and UNC profit from new Student Stores' renovations

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UNC Stores held a reception to celebrate their grand reopening on Tuesday afternoon.

Correction: An original version of the article incorrectly stated Paul Maloney's position at Barnes & Nobel College. The story was updated with the correct information. 

UNC celebrated the grand re-opening of the newly designed student stores with a ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday, complete with a colossal, multi-layer cake for the campus community.

The re-opening marks the end of the $3.8 million renovation, transforming the store into a communal hot spot. Lloyd Kramer, UNC history professor and director of Carolina Public Humanities, said he envisions the space to be a cradle of intellectual vitality, where ideas among community members and books clash together. 

“It’s already becoming a buzzing center of student and faculty activity," Kramer said. "Every time I come through here, there are just lots of people sitting at tables and drinking coffee, talking about the meaning of life and why we are here – all of the things that are supposed to happen at a university.”

As part of a 10-year agreement, Barnes & Noble invested $3.8 million in the Student Stores renovations. Brad Ives, associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises, said sales are on track to exceed the minimum payment guarantee to the University, which is $3 million for the first two years. 

Additionally, UNC predicts the new Student Stores will quadruple the original's net scholarship contribution, which was $400,000 annually. 

Paul Maloney, the vice president, stores, of Barnes & Noble College, spoke about the company’s efforts to promote student input when deciding how the new store will operate. He specifically mentioned working with student groups to decide on the clothing collection and the rearrangement of previously scattered shops on the third floor. 

“Having a lot of students that work in the store keeps us a vibrant and young company,” Maloney said. “Most of our executives in the company all started as student workers, so 80 percent of our upper management all started at different schools at one time or another.” 

However, the renovation is not just a operating change, but part of a larger effort to boost revenues that fund affordable education. 

The University decided to partner with Barnes & Noble College to address their declining sales and increase the financial contribution to need-based scholarships for students. The University transferred management of the store from UNC to Barnes & Noble College in July 2016. 

Barnes & Noble re-imagined the 92-year-old Bull’s Head Bookshop, moving it to the top floor, doubling its book selection and adding a new lounge and event area that overlooks the Pit. The new design makes the bookshop more of an attraction, while still preserving its cultural vibe. 

Recent renovations also included an expanded café area, called Stone and Leaf Café – a reference to North Carolina author Thomas Wolfe’s book, “Look Homeward, Angel.”

For shoppers looking to add to their UNC attire, the Student Stores added a Nike and Jordan shop on the second floor. Just a short ride down the escalator, shoppers can find the new cosmetic and care bar: the Glossary. 

The fruitful work of planning committees, management and construction workers won the fondness of many students.

Among the crowded shop-goers, junior Rumman Nasiri perched in the cozy café.

“This is my first time studying here," he said. "This never existed before, I’ve been here for two hours and I really like it.”

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