Tag Archives: University Store

Sneak peek at new U Store merchandise

The new academic year means a new suite of jackets, polos, tees, and other merchandise at the University Store. Marketing and Retail Services Manager Katie Simmons-Barth shared some images of her favorite just-in items, plus gave us the scoop on upcoming sales and fall trends.

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Thanks, Katie! All items above can be found in the store or online. You can also follow the University Store on Facebook or Instagram (@TUstore) to get access to brand new merchandise and pop-up sales.

Interview by Pam Gorsuch, photos by Katie Simmons-Barth

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Life at the University Store: Towson Pride

by Katie Barth

by Katie Barth

Every now and then I’m reminded of why I love working at a college. I work for the University Store in marketing, and I focus primarily on sending messages out to the public, whether that be a status update on our store’s Facebook page, an ad on our website, or simply showing up to events and being involved. There are times when I can’t help but be moved by something or someone. This week, for instance, I have been doing quick photo shoots with students all centered around spring. We have all this cute and fun new product in bright colors and fluorescents but that isn’t what my focus is. I want to show the general feel that I get from Towson, and that I hope others get too.

As we all know, our University has changed quite a bit over the past 10 years. We have opened new academic buildings, enrolled new students, built new residence halls, grown significantly in numbers and have taken on a new President, all while facing a huge budget crisis. In spite of these enormous changes, however, the feel of our “Towson” has remained the same. Throughout this time of change the University Store has adapted and has tried to keep up. I see a significant difference in the store from when I started ten years ago to now.UStore celebration

We are no longer just at our desks or hiding in a back office; we join you, the TU community, out on campus and celebrate you as much as we can. I have made a point to reach out and find students to model our clothes, to represent our product and to look great doing it. Our Facebook page is completely filled with images of students, faculty and staff wearing the product and enjoying their University in whatever way they choose. Our website celebrates our campus in much the same way. We have also taken on a new look in the actual store, removing the clunky customer service counter and replacing it with two streamline desks in two different locations in the store. The new, open sales floor makes room for new products and new activities. We look forward to the potential this fresh space offers our customers and us.

The store has also dedicated much of its time and money to supporting student groups, sponsoring events, doing community service and exceeding customer service expectations. Our store consists of full-time staff members (12 of which are TU alumni) and student employees. We are learning about our campus community and are committed to it as much as any other department.

We are very fortunate that our Towson brand is such a great one because it means our products are  more than just  sweatshirts or  hats They represent the college careers of students as a unique experience. It is a source of pride.

Towson is home for me in many ways. I met my partner here, I got my degree from here and I have worked here for (going on) 10 years. Towson is every day for me. These students are just a few of the smiles I have seen blossom and become something great right before my eyes, and that is definitely something to feel proud of. The University Store will continue to find new ways to highlight, engage and celebrate Towson University’s campus community. We hope you will join us in doing so.

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National Pie Day

By Stacy Elofir

By Stacy Elofir

January 23, 2013 was named National Pie Day by the American Pie Council.

Being an avid pie lover and knowing that many employees at the University Store are like minded, we decided that participating in this major event would be fun, team building and yummy.  I often dream up some crazy ideas, but nothing would ever be accomplished without my dedicated staff.  In this case I handed off the National Pie Day celebration to Carey Bonvegna, one of our Course Material Buyers and baker extraordinaire.  She took the idea and ran with it. Thank you, Carey!

Carey sent out a clever flyer, managed the “pie list”, made sure we had utensils and space for the pies, and enlisted her fellow pie loving co-workers to participate.  January is a busy time here at the University Store.  We have a lot to do in this week before the students return to campus full-time, and our main focus to prepare for their arrival, but a little pie never hurt anyone!

National Pie Day at the University Store

National Pie Day at the University Store

Our little celebration was a great success.  We had Coconut Custard Pie, Apple pie, Cherry pie, Pecan pie, Whoopie pie (amazing, by the way!), Tomato pie, Pizza pie, Chicken Pot Pie and more.  I think it is important to share our talents and fellowship with the people we spend so much time with every week.  I am now scouting the internet for other strange occasions that we can celebrate. We may make one up, too!  After all, Soup Day was a big hit, too.

Stop by the University Store — something is always happening here!

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Have you seen that Gnome?

By Stacy Elofir

Right before Spring Break the Office of Student Activities and the University Store decided to bring a little March Gnome Madness to Towson University. This was the idea…10 crazy days, 10 student winners, 10 hiding gnomes all over campus. A daily scavenger hunt to find those escaped gnomes. What a fun thing to do to get students involved before Spring Break and partner with departments all over campus.

 All of the departments that we contacted were excited and willing to participate. Each hiding place had its own set of clues given from each area. I was so glad that I didn’t have to write the clues; I am really bad at that sort of thing. What I didn’t know is how great each clue would be and that each clue would reflect the flavor of the department.

Cook Library wrote, “You can always get help wherever you roam. Just Ask a Librarian how to locate a journal and you’ll find that gnome.”

The Glen wrote, “In a room all made of glass, I am in the center of attention, Hansel and Gretel would not venture near.”

One of the TU gnomes used in the scavenger hunt.

Another gnome hiding on campus!

Student Affairs, Center for Student Diversity, Athletics, the Center for the Arts, Burdick Gym, The Career Center, and HRL all got involved. I had this clue from one auspicious office, “This aspiring gnome is learning how Towson’s executive office runs.” Can you guess where he was found? I am inspired by the teamwork and the ability for us as staff to do something fun for our students and that showcases the spirit of our school. Thank you, all who participated, helped, cheered and laughed with us. Now let’s come up with something else we can do together. It breaks up the day and it inspires us to do more!

Oh…and these guys are available at the Ustore. Give a Gnome a Home!

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University Store Goes Bagless

By Stacy Elofir

Gasp!  No bags at the University Store?  What if it rains?  What about the families and the armfuls of swag that they purchase?  How will they carry everything? 

In fall 2011 I was approached by the SGA to support efforts to get a little greener here on campus.  What could we do as the students’ University Store to make an impact on the initiative?  Last year, the Ustore went “bagless” for two weeks with little trouble or complaint from our customers.  We offered inexpensive re-usable bags and were pretty proud of ourselves, but we wondered if two weeks was enough of a commitment.

Other universities across the country have gone bagless and in California you are charged.  I said “Charged!?… For a bag!?”  This would encourage me to carry my own bag if I had to pay five cents each time I was forgetful.
The SGA took the idea to the students and across campus in the form of a survey.  The survey was given to 511 people and the results positively supported the removal of plastic shopping bags.  The SGA then crafted Resolution #17, or the Bagless Initiative, in favor of having bags available for only the first and last two weeks of the semester.

The University Store is promoting bagless shopping this semester.

Well, February 13,2012 marked the beginning of the third week of class and the beginning of, you guessed it, the Bagless Initiative.  What will this mean to those of us that shop at the Ustore?  It means you will no longer be asked at the register, “Would you like a bag?”  It will be assumed that you do not.  I will make sure the cashiers have a double secret stash of emergency bags and if a customer really needs one all they have to do is ask.  But you do have to ask!
Help us to support SGA Resolution  #17 and our  efforts to get a little greener! When you stop by to see us, please ask yourself, “Do I really need that bag?”
If you’re interested in reading more about going bagless, click here!
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Meet the Staff: University Store Merchandise Buyer and Specialist Lori Frantz

When you step inside the University Store, it is impossible to not find something that catches your eye. From Towson University beach towels to a whole line of TU Under Armour clothing, the merchandise selection is always tempting. As Merchandise Buyer and Specialist at the University Store, it’s Lori Frantz’s job to make sure it stays that way.

Lori, who’s always had a keen interest in clothing, found herself a fitting position at Towson University in 1993 after leaving a job as Receiving Supervisor at JoS. A. Bank Clothiers. She started working as a general clerk in the University Store and loved the new atmosphere. Her love of the job showed in her work, and she steadily progressed from her contractual clerk position to a full-time gig in the Store’s general merchandise receiving area, to her current position, which she’s held for five years.

During her time in the store, Lori has born witness to the ever-changing trends of university students, from the flannel shirts popular in the 90s to the rain boots that are all the rage today. She’s even seen trends that were popular decades ago—like neon colors—come back into style. As a buyer, Lori tries to determine the longevity of these trends and stock them appropriately.

“There are always new colors or styles each season,” Lori said. “The trick is to try to get the most sales without getting caught when a style changes.”

Despite being student-oriented, the University Store has a range of customers—from the children of alumni to current students, parents, faculty and staff—and Lori tries to stock the store with a wide variety of merchandise to fit every buyer, and their associated price range. She purchases everything from giftware like mugs, key chains, bags and car decals to TU clothing and footwear, to school and office supplies; almost everything except for food and textbooks. The items chosen are selected based on a range of criteria.

“I choose items for the store in many ways: for specific needs of professors or departments, products that have a specific purpose, products that are fun and exciting, products that are new on the market, etc.” she said. “My focus is on the current market. I look not only at good quality and functional merchandise, but also the popular trends that appeal to or are requested by students and faculty/staff.”

To find the latest trends, Lori attends college trade shows, checks out various stores, websites and magazines, and observes students and individuals of all ages on and off campus. Vendors are constantly presenting her with new samples, catalogs and opinions too.

“I look for repeated styles, colors and designs. The more you see something, the better likelihood that it will sell,” Lori said. “Sometimes it is just a guessing game too, but that’s the risk you have to take in sales.”

Last year, Lori and her coworkers managed that risk expertly. Out of 64,000 pieces of clothing, 62,000—or almost 97%—sold.

“As you can imagine, my job is very time-consuming,” Lori said. “But I get to meet a wide array of people and see so many new and interesting products. Seeing the satisfaction of the customers that walk out of our store with something they love makes it all worthwhile.”

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University Store Launches New Customer Loyalty Program

For the first time in the University Store’s history, customers are being rewarded for their spending. In January, the store unveiled Tiger Rewards, a loyalty program aimed at keeping University Store customers coming back.

“I have a lot of shoes,” University Store Director, Stacy Elofir said. “I was at Famous Footwear and noticed they have a rewards program; pretty much every store now has something. I thought, ‘why not us?”

The program is very simple: customers who want to become loyalty members create profiles on the University Store website. Then they log into their profile and use their phone number to sign up for the loyalty program.

“Doing it online just makes everything easier, and makes it possible to be a loyalty member from anywhere…We could have members in California,” Stacy said.

Once a customer is signed up, the rewards begin. Loyalty members receive 5% back on all purchases made at the store. Members earn one point for every dollar spent and every dollar received through textbook buybacks. Points are eligible to be redeemed toward University Store gift cards 30 days after the purchase in which they were earned (200 points = $10 gift card, 500 points = $25, 1000 points = $50 and 2000 points = $100). Best of all, the points and gift cards never expire and anyone can become a loyalty member.

“We wanted to make it as simple as possible,” Stacy said. “It’s available to anyone who would shop at the store, whether you’re a student, alum, faculty, staff member or just someone who likes Towson merchandise.”

The University Store is hoping the simplicity of the loyalty program will bring more customers to the store and keep university merchandise business on Towson’s campus. Stacy cited examples such as Arizona University, which had between a 5 and 10% increase in sales after the launch of a similar program. It’s too early to tell if the University Store will have the same success, but Stacy is optimistic.

“It’s been very successful so far — we’ve already had over 200,000 points accumulated by loyalty members,” said Stacy. “I think when you give back to your customers it will keep them coming back.”

For more information on Tiger Rewards, visit http://store.towson.edu.

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