What better way for a University of Arizona student to represent than by wearing college merch bought at the university’s bookstore? Even better, students can buy more than just apparel—including books, computers and other school supplies. And as sustainable products grow increasingly popular, it’s only fitting that the University of Arizona BookStores sell sustainable merchandise as well.
As a way to build a relationship with the University BookStores, and with the guidance of Erin Paradis, lecturer in business communication, and Kim Marchesseault, senior lecturer and co-director of business communication, students in Business Communication collaborated with the store staff for their Spring ’21 Business Consulting Project Scope.
The goal of the project was to have students join forces with Southern Arizona businesses and nonprofit organizations and present sustainable business opportunities to the University BookStores where they can sell products that would make a positive and measurable impact in the Tucson community.
The products and collaborations that were presented by the five student groups ranged from collaborating with Re-Threads Thrift Shop to establish a pop-up store on campus to selling sustainable pencils to exploring the possibility of Lululemon offering a pop-up shop on campus as well.
“This project helps gauge both students’ enthusiasm and professionalism by taking on a challenge that could potentially turn into a real business opportunity all while focusing on real-world issues that are relevant to their generation,” says Paradis.
Before presenting their ideas to the bookstore, the students examined:
- What current sustainability efforts are taking place at UArizona?
- What current sustainability practices should the University BookStores highlight in its messaging to the students?
- How can the University BookStores expand its sustainability practices?
- How can the University BookStores expand its products and services to emphasize local community partnerships and the importance of buying local?
- What sustainable products or recycled-material products would be most attractive to the target audience of students?
- What messages and channels would be most effective for the target audience to promote the University BookStores’ sustainability measures, environmental impact, local community support and sustainable products?
After hours of research and data collecting, students virtually presented their ideas to Debby Shively, interim associate vice president of business affairs, and Joel Burstein, associate director of finance for the Arizona Student Unions and University BookStores, with the hopes that their concepts would be adopted by the University BookStores.
“I most enjoyed the possibility that an idea our team had could come into fruition on campus,” says Jake Villot ’22 BSBA (Accounting and Sports Nutrition). “This was a huge driving factor for our team and something that excited our team members very much.”
Shively was so impressed by the students’ presentations that she gave them each $100 to deposit into their bursar accounts.
“I am impressed with their passion on this specific project let alone their young executive professionalism,” she says. “This is truly a testament of a true partnership on campus that we value.”