It was just one year ago this month that The University of Mobile Store opened its doors, and what a year it has been!
When the decision was made in Fall 2019 by our new president, Dr. Lonnie Burnett, to enhance the student experience for textbooks, supplies, apparel and more, no one could have imagined that the doors of a new spirit store would open right in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. This bold move proved to be an ideal plan to serve the entire campus community better, especially in such unprecedented times.
Textbooks were moved to a more efficient online ordering process through Barnes and Noble, leaving room to enhance the brick-and-mortar store in the J.L. Bedsole Library building to better serve our students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni.
This is where the dream really came to life. The former UM Bookstore became The University of Mobile Store, or The U for short. Previously run by a third party, the new store is under the leadership of the university marketing department. Our vision was to make The U a fresh, new, inviting space that instills joy in all who visit.
Renovations of new lighting, flooring, paint, signage and music, as well as an emphasis on customer service, have enhanced the shopping experience. A new point-of-sale system with a user-friendly website also made shopping easier for parents and alumni. Brand new merchandise and designs inspired by student feedback provide popular, affordable options with a variety of price ranges for every budget.
We also love working with our UM students! Business student interns get experience in The U, learning skills in sales, inventory management, visual merchandising and customer service. They also have input into what is sold and designed. They have helped host many special events throughout the year including our grand opening, student and employee appreciation days, and free coffee Saturdays. In the fall, we plan to develop The U Student Team, which will consist of students from a variety of majors who will give more feedback on designs and merchandise, model clothing, and assist with social media.
Despite the challenges of 2020, UM experienced the highest enrollment in five years – which made the need for The U even greater. The new University of Mobile Store allowed all of the UM family to shop safely and conveniently without having to leave campus. Parents were able to order special gifts for their students for encouragement during finals, to celebrate birthdays and, in some cases, for students in quarantine – all with free delivery on campus.
It has been exciting and rewarding to hear the positive feedback and see the joy on faces when customers find a new item they love in the store. Thank you to all of our UM Family for making this first year so great! Join us during May 2021 in the Birthday Bash celebration with special discounts, giveaways and more! We look forward to serving you for many years to come! Go Rams!