N.C. Central University students now see a new look and more buying options when visiting the university’s Smart Market following its March 28 grand re-opening.
NCCU Dining Services General Manager Tony Hall said renovations began over winter break with the installation of the drop ceiling while the interior design changes began over spring break and continued into the following week.
According to Hall, who designed most of the new features, the need for modernization prompted the store’s renovations.
“We like to try and keep our locations refreshed,” Hall said. “We have long-term goals on all the locations, and it was just time to finally get (the Smart Market) updated.”
Dining Services planned the renovation for months, with cashiers writing down suggestions from students on the things they would like to see in the store.
In the updated Smart Market, students will see more—and new—merchandise, specifically for those who want to cook inside their residence halls. The store, now in its eighth year, sells kitchen utensils, oven mitts, iron skillets and even cutting boards.
The market also added two refrigerated deli cases that hold packaged fruit, salads, sandwiches and yogurt.
“We figured we’ll bring it all in, we’ll see how it sells, and then from there develop maybe new things we’re gonna carry, or if we’re gonna keep carrying these,” Hall said.
However, Hall wants students to be aware that the Smart Market is still strictly a convenience store.
“But if you’re on campus and you need one or two things, we have it,” he said. “We want students to come here as opposed to going off campus.”
Because the semester is almost over, Hall and the university did not want to include too much, but Hall predicted that more fresh produce will be available in the fall.
“We’re probably 75 percent there from where I would like it to be,” he added.
However, one student would like to change something already: the price.
“What I would really like to see improved are the costs,” the student said. “The renovations are done well, but the prices should really go down.”
Regarding the renovations, another student said she didn’t notice any changes. “When I walked in, there were some things I had noticed, but it wasn’t anything major.”
One relatively major change is that the name “Smart Market” is nowhere to be found.
Dining Services wants to give the Smart Market a new name by holding a contest in which students will submit ideas on what they want the store’s new name to be.
“We’re gonna come back and rebrand (the store) into something that the students here decided to name,” Hall said. “We want the students here to own it.”
Name submissions can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. From there, the best submissions will be voted on during lunch on April 5, 2017. The results of the Wednesday vote will be announced in the days to come.
Header photo by Chantel Johnson.