Summer Coop Store Renovation to Include Produce, Larger Space

Next year, Pomona College foodies won’t even have to step off campus to buy organic greens or a carton of milk. 

The Smith Campus Center’s Coop Store, which is operated by Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC), will be renovated and expanded over the summer.

Plans to improve the Coop Store include offering fresh produce, bread, milk, eggs, and ready-to-eat sandwiches, said Chris Waugh, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC. The store will also be expanded to incorporate the space that currently houses the SCC Art Gallery.  The project's projected cost is $170,000.

The renovation will occur in stages so the store can remain open for summer patrons. No changes will be made to the Coop Fountain.

"There is a trend in college campus centers of having these little convenience stores,” Waugh said. “Students these days are much more interested in cooking and fresh produce. We're also going to have the opportunity to sell organic produce and perhaps even feature products from the farm, as often as they can supply them.”

“We're a growing campus, and this is a tribute to that,” said Erick Teran PO ’13, a Coop Store manager. “We were really inspired by Cal Poly's campus store, which is more like a farm type of market. Hopefully the line will move faster, and we will have a wider selection of products for family and alumni as well.”

The project was spearheaded by ASPC President Nate Brown PO '12. 

"We have a basically final set of plans, though we still have to decide on some finishing touches,” Brown said. “Right now we're verifying some things with the health department and talking with government agencies and making sure that the plans meet building codes. We will soon be looking for bids from contractors.”

In an e-mail to all Pomona students over winter break, Brown announced that the the ASPC was holding a comment period until Jan. 13 to seek student feedback on the proposals. Brown said that the ASPC received 17 responses—ten in favor of the project, two against, and five general inquiries about the specific financial burdens of this project and the financial position of the ASPC. The negative responses mainly expressed concerns about the ramifications of this project on the image of the college, especially in light of the recent labor tensions on campus, as well as general doubt that the benefits of the project would be worth the significant costs, he added.  

Brown said that the Pomona administration is considering a proposal to assume all of the costs of this renovation. Under the current plan, most of the funding would come from ASPC reserves.

Last year’s ASPC Senate voted to allocate $60,000 of ASPC reserves toward the renovation the existing Coop Store.  That sum, combined with a $30,000 grant from the college, would have been just enough for the original $90,000 projected cost of renovation. After some reevaluating, however, the current senate voted to expand the Coop Store into the art gallery's space, an addition that will require an extra $80,000. The college has reaffirmed its commitment to funding 33 percent of the project, and the senate voted last week to allocate an additional $60,000 to the project.

Twenty thousand dollars of this additional cost will come from this year's operating costs, and the rest will be from reserves.

Despite these expenses, Brown said that ASPC reserves will not dip lower than $340,000 as a result of the Coop renovations. 

"I believe that the ASPC should have a significant amount of reserves, since we do operate two businesses and we occasionally have miscellaneous expenses,” he said. “We need an emergency fund, and the reserves act as a very good cushion. I don't necessarily believe, though, that we need $500,000 in reserves. That's what's so great about this project—we can do it, it'll have a very clear benefit for students, and at the same time, it won't hurt our operating budget at all. There won' t be any negative effects on programs for students.”

"I think I'm going to love it,” Rob McElwaine PO ’14 said of the new Coop. “I love the Coop Store already, but I don't always have time to go to the Coop Fountain to get a sandwich; and after the renovation, I'll be able to just grab one to-go at the Coop Store.”

Brown said that no decision has been made about the new location of the SCC Art Gallery.