- Students at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, Florida, have more options to shop for food close to home thanks to a new location of the Publix grocery chain that opened this week on campus.
- Publix built and is set to operate the 28,000-square-foot store on land it is leasing from the university, a USF spokesperson told Education Dive. It will pay USF $130,000 annually for the first five years of the 20-year contract, after which the amount increases 10% every five years. The contract includes six options to extend for an additional five years each, USF said.
- Of the store's 140-plus associates, more than 50 are USF students, according to the university. Publix agreed to host at least two job fairs per year on campus, USF said, and the two organizations are exploring research opportunities.
The addition of Publix, the leading grocery retailer in Florida, brings a more robust retail option to the array of convenience stores and fast-casual dining options on the USF campus. The store itself is positioned near a recently opened student housing "village" on the Tampa campus that has beds for 2,000 students and includes dining and fitness facilities. The campus currently houses roughly 6,300 students.
In a statement shared with Education Dive, USF President Judy Genshaft said the new store is part of the university's effort to become "a vibrant living-learning environment that fully supports the needs of our students both inside and outside the classroom."
It's not the only college to try bringing big-box retail to campus.
Walmart, one of Publix's biggest competitors in Florida, began piloting small-format stores on college campuses nearly a decade ago. Walmart has since largely pulled back on the effort as the company shifts its focus to online ordering and its large-format "supercenter" stores. It still has locations at the University of Arkansas and the Virginia Commonwealth University, however.
Target took on the small-format experiment in its hometown of Minneapolis in 2014 with its first TargetExpress. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote two years after the launch that the 20,000-square-foot store was "one of the only places near [the University of Minnesota] campus to buy produce, dairy and meat."
The company said in a blog post it plans to open 10 such stores on or near college campuses this year, after opening 30 small-format stores in 2017, with plans to have more than 100 of the small-format stores open by 2020 as Target chases younger shoppers. Colleges served by these stores span both coasts and include the University of California's Berkeley and Irvine campuses, Brigham Young University, the University of Chicago, Penn State and the University of Vermont.
Most in-demand at the Express stores are grab-and-go snack and lunch items, personal care essentials and dorm decor, according to Target. School supplies are also popular.
Amazon, too, is carving out a spot on campus with around 30 pickup locations across the country.
Retailers co-locate with college campuses to build brand loyalty with young shoppers, many of whom are making their own purchasing decisions for the first time.
Publix itself is looking to tap a younger crowd than it's known to draw. In addition to the USF partnership, which is its first college-campus location, it is also opening several small-format GreenWise Markets throughout the Southeast. Half the size of their typical footprint, the store targets millennials with natural and organic products as well as prepared foods, Grocery Dive reports.
Jeff Wells contributed reporting to this story.