New Design Trends – “Right-sizing” Your Space

By Randy Stejskal, Founder and Vice President of College Store Design

When participating in trade shows, facilitating industry learning and training events, or serving as an invited guest speaker, I am often asked, “What are other Colleges and Universities doing with their retail stores”? For the most part, my response is “a lot of things”. One trend in particular we are seeing is the concept of “right-sizing” retail space.

With the proper collegiate design expertise, and knowledge of fixture systems that maximize merchandise SKU capacity, a campus store can reduce their square footage, and still maintain a surprising percentage of their merchandise. For example, one customer was able to reduce store square footage by 25%, and retain 93% of SKUs.

Vasser College has recently engaged our store planning and design team to repurpose a historic movie space into a retail store operation. This gave Vasser College the ability to reclaim a revenue stream that was lost to their leased bookstore. The college collaborated with BurgerFi®, a stylish, eco-minded chain serving burgers, hot dogs and tasty beverages. The two businesses have opened up together in this historic space, allowing customers to order a burger and shop for general merchandise at the new Vasser College Store.

The University of San Diego reduced their retail operation from 19,000 sq. ft. to just under 7,000 sq. ft., into a custom designed, new construction facility. Known as the “Store of the Future”, it features a Virtual Fitting Room, 3D printing services, hi-tech color shifting LED lighting system and more. USD accomplished this reduction in square footage by utilizing “Concierge Service” for their course materials. This allowed USD to move their course material management to a “low rent” back room inventory space one floor below their Torero Store. During RUSH, the students order online or in at an in-store kiosk and then receive a text message in which to come pick up their books when they are ready. How nice is that for their students?

At Ottawa University, we designed a new store that allows students to pick up books at a service window within their new student center. This is just down the hall from the store entrance and the new storefront display windows. The proximity between the store entrance and the service window works great as they both sit in the center of the new student center.


At Iowa Western, we have actually designed a space where no course materials sit on the sales floor. Instead, the students retrieve their books at a service window on the lower level of the student union. The course materials fixtures are on tracks so that the fixtures accordion into each other, reducing the normally required square footage needed in a backroom course material operation. This design allows the College Store to offer a robust Grab & Go consumables offering, and lots of exciting school branded SKUs on their sales floor.

Southeast College in Lincoln, Nebraska recently engaged our team to design a new store that enables Clerk Service. Formerly, SCC made their course materials available to the students via self-service. Switching from self-service to clerk service allowed a 33% reduction in square footage. Today, when every square foot counts in regards paying rent, and illustrating how well an operation is handling their SG&A, this approach can really make sense.

If you are interested in a consult to determine how to reinvent your space or right-size you square footage, visit

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