Location of new Price Center grocery store debated

    The University Centers Advisory Board discussed grocery store alternatives on the Price Center expansion agenda on Feb. 9. Possibilities include adopting an expanded Sunshine Store as a grocery retail option or having separate grocery store vendors available.

    According to UCAB Chair Justin Williams, the referendum for expansion calls for an allocated space of about 3,500 square feet for a grocery store at the Price Center and about 4,500 square feet of bookstore expansion. UCAB has recently been notified that with this space, UCSD Bookstore’s Sunshine Store is interested in offering a grocery retail option for students. No plans have yet been finalized.

    “First of all, we need to make sure the students get what they want,” Williams said.

    Some UCAB members said that while the current plan of offering a grocery venue at the Price Center, the presence of another grocery retailer at Sunshine Store is unnecessary.

    “The bookstore had ideas of making [Sunshine Store] more of a grocery store, but two potential grocery stores is not a good idea for University Centers,” Williams said.

    Williams noted that a venue with a space of 3,500 square feet is not adequately viable as a grocery store for students. The option of allowing Sunshine Store to expand from a convenience store to a grocery retailer with more space to work on may be a better option, according to Williams.

    UCAB members discussed the possibility of having two grocery stores, and some said that would create unnecessary competition that would not benefit students.

    “When you’re here on campus at a university, [business] enterprises deal with razor-thin profit margins. It’s really hard to operate a service with competition,” A.S. Commissioner of Enterprise Operations and A.S. representative to UCAB Jeremy Cogan said. “That’s why [we] don’t have two different people selling coffee or two different pizza places in Price Center.”

    One option the Sunshine Store is exploring is a farmer’s market idea.

    “Right now we’re only in the talking stages of it, but the reason why we’re looking into that is to offer fresh produce for students,” Sunshine Store manager Bonnie Harmon said. “The whole idea is to service the students with a larger variety of merchandise.”

    Harmon also said that pursuing a farmer’s market option is complicated because it deals with the involvement and consultation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    UCAB discussed the related issues of parking and shuttle stops. Cogan said parking availability is important in the business of Price Center, particularly for a grocery store where students would have to carry bags to and from their cars or homes.

    Some students agree that a campus grocery store would benefit on-campus residents who do not have cars.

    “It would be better to have more options,” Thurgood Marshall College junior Catie Carlson said.

    Currently, UCAB is only in the discussion stages of the matter and is considering approaching a “request for proposal” for UCSD Bookstore and other grocery store operators. An RFP shows a framework of a retailer’s ideal plan of business.

    Williams said that opting for a grocery retailer that is operated under the bookstore is a better option because he felt Sunshine Store already offers adequate retail and would settle a competition split between two potential grocery stores. A grocery retailer under higher control of University Centers would provide a better power position of negotiating for students.

    “This would be a smart, easy solution to solve these problems,” Williams said.

    UCAB will continue to investigate both options and has developed a grocery sub-committee to adopt an ideal plan and present it to the expansion architects.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal