Moo-ving on up

Maryland moved Dairy to increase sales.

Call it one for the history books: After nearly 90 years of operation, the University of Maryland’s (UMD) historic Maryland Dairy ice cream shop moved into new space in the campus’ Stamp Student Union this past April, with the intent of both increasing traffic to the Dairy and increasing space for campus offices.

Originally located in the campus’s Turner Hall, the Dairy has been a part of UMD since 1924. “The decision to move [the Dairy] happened gradually over time,” says Bart Hipple, assistant director for UMD dining services. “Visibility wasn’t what we wanted it to be, and the location wasn’t adjacent to any high-traffic area.”

According to Hipple, dining services worked to identify the best place for the Dairy’s new location, and it landed on the food court in the Stamp Student Union, which is located in the center of campus. “It’s a natural, good place for the Dairy to be,” he says. “It’s central to everything and a popular place for lunch.”

Historically, the Dairy has been an integral part of UMD campus life. According to Hipple, the Dairy’s ice cream sales grew out of the university’s school of agriculture, which sold dairy products such as butter, milk and ice cream to the public as part of the school of agriculture’s curriculum during the Dairy’s early days. “People in the 1930s and 1940s were really interested in ice cream with exotic flavors,” Hipple says.

Around 2000, dining services took over the operation of the Dairy’s sales room—although the ice cream was still produced by the school of agriculture—and began serving lunch and snacks in that location. The Dairy quickly became a popular spot on campus for both students and faculty with nearby offices. “The university visitor center moved into part of Turner Hall, and visitors on campus tours would stop in,” Hipple says.

In 2006, dining services took over production of the Dairy’s ice cream as well, moving equipment and production to space in the dining hall. This shift in production, Hipple says, along with physical changes in the campus that moved offices and foot traffic away from Turner Hall, was part of the reason behind the Dairy’s relocation.

In its new location, the Dairy looks a bit different; the concept is focused exclusively on ice cream and other treats such as sundaes and milkshakes. According to Hipple, the new location—which opened just after spring break—has been a huge success. “The results have been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “We’re selling about four times as much ice cream as we were before.”

The resulting boost in traffic also means that the Dairy now has a different staffing structure. Prior to the move, the Dairy wasn’t busy enough to warrant a full staff all day, but that also meant that they weren’t always able to effectively handle rush periods. “In the location we’re at now, we’re busy enough that we’re fully staffed all the time,” Hipple says. “We can serve our customers much better.”

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