Grand Opening of the UVM 'Catamount Store' in Downtown Burlington Set for Sept. 10-12 Weekend
Release Date: 09-07-2010
The University of Vermont will celebrate the opening of its first off-campus retail location over the Sept. 10-12 weekend with the grand opening of the Catamount Store on the Church Street Marketplace across from Burlington Town Center.
The 2,300-square-foot store, located at 46 Church Street facing Old Navy, is a joint venture of the UVM Bookstore and UVM Athletics and will sell a full line of apparel, gifts, books and other UVM-related products including a full line of athletic gear. "Grand Opening Weekend" kicks off Friday, Sept. 10 with staff, student-athletes and coaches, including men's basketball coach Mike Lonergan, women's basketball coach Lori Gear McBride and men's hockey coach Kevin Sneddon, on hand from noon to 1 p.m. for a meet-and-greet at the Catamount Store.
On Saturday, Sept. 11 there will be a parade with the Stanley Cup going up Church Street to the Catamount Store from 3:30 to 4:55 p.m., courtesy of former UVM strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman, now strength and conditioning coach for the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Members of the public can have their photo taken with the Stanley Cup for a $5 donation with proceeds going to the UVM Victory Club and the Church Street Marketplace Street Outreach Team.
"Adding a presence to one of the more successful downtown marketplaces in the country makes a lot of sense in terms of enhancing our brand and bringing the university to our customers," said Jay Menninger, manager of the UVM Bookstore. Parking at the bookstore is also an issue, he said, adding that the location of the UVM Bookstore inside the Dudley H. Davis Center can be been difficult for off-campus patrons to find. "We've been successful at the on-campus location and will continue to do well here with the UVM community, but a lot of people never come up Main Street to shop. We need a store located where our customers are, and this is the perfect spot."
In Fiscal Year 2009, the UVM Bookstore and website, uvmstore.uvm.edu, sold more than $1.5 million in apparel and $1 million in gifts including coffee mugs, syrup, pencils, decals, banners, and other products. Menninger says the downtown Catamount Store has the potential to bring in additional sales revenue and build brand recognition for the university.
"Anchor institutions like UVM, IBM and Fletcher Allen mean a lot to the economic vitality of Burlington and the state of Vermont, so when we heard that UVM was coming downtown we were thrilled because we knew they'd be successful," said Ron Redmond, executive director for the Church Street Marketplace. "We have a lot of people ask us where they can buy UVM mementos. No one is really capturing that market right now, so I think this is a really smart move by the university.
The opening of the Catamount Store is part of a national trend that has seen a number of universities open stores in nearby downtowns despite an unpredictable economy. Recent plans to open stores have been unveiled by Bucknell in Lewiston, Penn.; University of Delaware in Newark; Indiana State University in Terre Haute; Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.; South Dakota State in Brookings; Davidson College in Davidson, N.C.; among others.
"It's definitely a growing trend as colleges and universities try to further integrate themselves into communities and seek new sources of revenue," said Charles Schmidt, spokesperson for the National Association for College Stores. "Their presence can be beneficial to downtown economic development while also allowing institutions to leverage their retail expertise and make a little more profit. It's usually good for all parties."
Chris McCabe, assistant vice president for athletic marketing and business development, says the opening of the Catamount Store is a prime opportunity to further enhance the UVM brand at a time when the university's athletic teams are gaining regional and national recognition and the number of students applying to the university is at an all-time high.
"The university has a lot of momentum right now and has a brand that people are really proud of," said McCabe, who is in charge of product licensing for the university. "The new store will find the right product mix because we're in a position to react and respond to what people want. You've got to be able to meet the needs of your supporters, and the opening of the new store moves us one step closer to that goal."
Bob Corran, associate vice president and director of athletics, sees the Catamount Store as a place where people can experience all things UVM whether it's through meeting athletes and coaches, watching game highlights on the flat screen televisions the store will feature, buying tickets to games or just hanging out with other fans.
"As our athletic programs have become more successful our fan base has grown, so it makes a lot of sense to bring the university to the people who support us," said Corran. "I think we've been missing a lot of potential customers because of our location. By being downtown we can create some excitement that supporters of the university will really respond to."