A.S. Store Goes Mobile to Save Rent Costs

Instead of opening an A.S. -sponsored apparel store in Price Center East this spring, council has decided to launch a mobile tent store.

According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Brian McEuen, the plans were changed due to an estimated $98,000 in upstart costs that covered design, construction, rent and inventory,. Instead, organizers shelved the idea to save $80,800 with a $16,200 mobile store, which includes the costs of merchandising equipment, tents, inventory and rent.

“We had sticker shock when we realized how much it would cost, and so we came up with the idea to go mobile,” McEuen said.

Because the scale will be so much smaller in a mobile store, the costs are far less. In addition, construction costs for a physical store in Price Center would cost about $50,000, while the tent required for a mobile store costs $3,000, thereby saving $47,000 in construction costs.

Vice President of Finance and Resources Andrew Ang said the mobile option was beneficial for reasons other than cutting cost, since the council had already allocated $204,000 in Spring Quarter 2010 to fund the venue.

“We do have the money, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend it all,” Ang said. “And to be financially minded, we decided to just use what we need to be successful.”

Ang said that, with a mobile store, the council can obtain live data on the popularity of Triton Outfitters without paying expensive rent. Two surveys were conducted last year to ascertain the potential popularity of the store, but according to McEuen, the questions were not targeted enough to return usable data.

McEuen said a mobile store allows Triton Outfitters to create a market for itself and that the mobile nature will enable it to follow potential customers to popular events, such as the Sun God Festival, vendor fairs and farmers’ markets.

If Triton Outfitters gains enough student support, the council will look into expanding to Price Center, he said.

McEuen presented a projected timeline for the physical expansion at the Dec. 1 council meeting. The first step will be establishing the enterprise and branding Triton Outfitters through the mobile store over the next two years.

The next step is to develop a website and, in four to five years, if students respond positively, the council will reopen the possibility a physical store.

“We want to make sure it’s a popular commodity first,” McEuen said. “If we see success, we will build the personnel infrastructure by hiring product developers and managers and then we would look at spaces in Price Center.”

The space reserved by University Centers for the store will be used for another vendor at the discretion of University Centers. If the council expands into a physical store later, it will renegotiate with University Centers to find an available space.

McEuen hopes that by offering students goods that are not available elsewhere on campus, Triton Outfitters will build a solid customer base that will lead to expansion.

“The bookstore sells core university items,” McEuen said. “We are selling the extra stuff for concerts and events. We plan on having Triton Outfitters build its own brand of clothing.”

Readers can contact Megha Ram at [email protected].

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