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How Auburn University is turning its c-stores into hip destinations

This summer was a busy one for the dining team at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. While students were away on break, campus was abuzz with new construction projects, including a renovation of its convenience stores.

With six locations on campus, including one in the student union, Auburn’s c-store units are a popular haven for students looking to grab a quick meal or snack. To keep up with students’ changing needs, Aramark, the school’s foodservice contractor, set out to transform the c-store locations on campus into visually inviting destinations that offer healthier fare.

“It’s a lot more finished and polished,” says Director of Campus Dining Glenn Loughridge of the new design. “I think the visual is becoming more and more important for students.”

A layer of personalization

Personalization was top of mind when designing the new c-stores. Making the new spaces a destination was something that came up frequently when talking to students, Loughridge says.

“When [students] go someplace, they want to feel like it’s a destination, not just something that we put together,” he says.

In order to make the convenience stores feel like they are unique to Auburn, the new and improved units feature signage and a paint job that incorporates the school colors.

Personalization was also worked into the c-stores’ new name. Now called War Eagle Supply Co., the name pays homage to the school’s war eagle legend and tradition. While the university’s mascot is the Tigers, the phrase “war eagle” has become a rallying cry among students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“That’s kind of our battle cry,” he says. “It’s a really cool tradition here. When Auburn people see each other that’s what they say. It’s very personal for us.”

A mix of healthy and indulgent

While many of the c-stores’ offerings are the same as they were before the renovation, the healthy options have expanded.

Students now have access to an array of sandwiches, salads, sushi and cut fruit as well as prepackaged snacks and drinks. The dining team also met with students that have allergies and special dietary needs to make sure the snacks that fit their needs were available, Loughridge says.

The updated stores also include tech additions such as an enhanced POS system that gives cashiers the ability to scan bar codes. The team hopes that this new feature will help speed up lines. Some locations are also outfitted with a f’real machine, an interactive ice cream blending machine that can make smoothies and milkshakes. The f’real machine comes standard with a freezer unit to hold frozen, preblended grab-and-go smoothies and milkshakes. The machine blends the frozen treat to students’ specifications.

As students’ tastes evolve, so will the War Eagle Supply Co.’s offerings. The team is always looking for new things, especially products from local vendors, Loughridge says. Although healthy options are a focus for the new and improved units, Loughridge says the stores still offer indulgent sweets and snacks.

“[Students] absolutely have to have sour gummy worms, so we’re going to have them. I think for them, that’s a whole food group,” he jokes.

Photograph courtesy of Auburn University

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