School Store to Modernize

Refreshing — that’s the word Mr. Daniel Cronin, the manager of the School Store, used recently to describe the ways in which Choate’s book store will change once it’s in the new St. John Hall Activities Center. Mr. Cronin and other faculty members visited New Haven not long ago to glean inspiration from the Yale Bookstore. The School is discussing different store hours and layout. Among these substantial changes, the School Store also hopes to invite more product representatives and vendors to facilitate product sampling.

The goal is to improve sustainability, efficiency, and customer experience. Mr. Cronin hopes the new store will look like a modern retail shop. “The new School Store will mesh with the aesthetic of the new building,” he said. “Being up close to the heart of campus and working more closely with the community will make the School Store seem more connected to the community than it ever has been before.” (After the new St. John is finished, the School Store will be above ground for the first time in the School’s history.)

Director of the Student Activities Center Mr. James Yanelli agreed. “The new store will have a certain freshness. Its more vibrant and accessible location will encourage more foot traffic.” He added, “Hopefully, it’s good for kids, good for the School, and good for the School Store’s business.”

In order to glean inspiration, Mr. Cronin noted that members of the school visited New Haven, “We looked for inspiration from the bookstore about products that are available at the bookstore. We also observed their ways of merchandising to see if we can adapt that on a smaller scale.”

The focus of the new store’s layout is on maximizing space and efficiency. Additionally, the Store hopes to make textbook distribution more efficient by building a storage unit separate from the Store to carry extra textbooks throughout the year, therefore reducing congestion in the store when students buy textbooks.

Furthermore, to mitigate long wait times and increase sustainability, the School Store hopes to change the way it conducts transactions at the cashier with a new point of sale system, including an electronic signature capture pad that produces an electronic record of the purchase, eliminating need for paper receipts entirely. Mr. Cronin said, “Even though it doesn’t seem like much, it will have a cumulative effect.”

The School Store is also considering extending store hours to accommodate students’ busy schedules. This would allow  purchases after sports practices and rehearsals. Josephine Mahh ’18 pointed out that “because the School Store is currently so far away from all of the academic buildings, students put off buying textbooks and other materials. The new location and timing is more convenient, which is nice.”

Students expressed mixed opinions regarding whether or not these changes would result in more traffic for the store. Tommy Ren ’18 said, “By adjusting itself to meet the students’ needs for sustainability and shorter lines, the School Store will attract more students and steer them away from off-campus options such as Walmart. Hopefully, even after the new SAC opens, the School Store can continue to listen to our opinions and make more necessary adjustments.”

In contrast, Joseph Coyne ’19 remarked, “I don’t think the changes will affect student life too much.  I think only a decrease in overpriced items would be one of the only changes that might really affect the amount that the school store is visited.”

No matter the exact changes that will be incorporated between now and its opening date in the new building, the School Store hopes to exemplify its main purpose: to serve the Choate community. Mr. Cronin reflected, “I think the new store is very unique. I don’t think that you are going to find another one like it in the prep school marketplace.”

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