As part of the new Memorial Union (MU) renewal project to begin in January 2015, the UC Davis Bookstore recently relocated its TechHub from behind the MU ATMs to the space previously used for the MU Station Computer Lab. According to Jason Lorgan, director of UC Davis Stores, the new TechHub has been open for several weeks in order to gauge public opinion and prepare for its grand opening on March 31.
According to Lorgan, the relocation of the TechHub was made in order to provide more space for the UC Davis Bookstore renovation and increase visibility for the facility.
“In order to expand the footprint of the store so that we can better accommodate the start of the quarter and the number of students we’ll have in general, we needed to try to reclaim some of the space that’s in the store now,” Lorgan said. “One of our solutions was to move the TechHub out.”
Lorgan hopes that relocating the TechHub from the back corner of the bookstore will allow more students to become aware of the facility and its resources.
“We’ll often hear from students in their third or fourth year here that they’ve discovered the TechHub for the first time because it’s kind of in the back corner and they’ve never actually seen it there,” Lorgan said. “We recognize it’s kind of hidden.”
While Lorgan said he still believes the new TechHub location is slightly hidden as well, he hopes to combat this by posting signage to inform people of the facility.
“Where it’s at right now is kind of hidden as well, but we’re going to put a whole bunch of signage there as this project moves forward so that we hope it’s much more prominent and easy to find,” Lorgan said.
Due to the increase in space, one of the primary changes to the TechHub includes expanding the product selection, specifically an increase in tablets. According to Lorgan, the Student Advisory Council advised him to do this because of the increase of tablet usage by students.
“A few years ago there was a big shift from desktop to laptop, and now it’s moving to tablet. So we’re greatly expanding our tablet selection and bringing in additional accessories,” Lorgan said.
Another change to the facility will be an increase in technology training sessions. While the previous TechHub held a few technology training sessions, Lorgan predicts the increase in visibility of the new facility would allow more students to be aware of these programs.
“We had technology training before, but we just hope to expand that program. Sometimes that involves bringing the vendors in,“ Lorgan said. “So maybe Apple comes in and does demonstrations on how to maximize the use of the iPad, or it could be that Adobe comes in to demonstrate how their software works. That kind of thing.”
In addition to an increase in product selection and technology training sessions, Lorgan wants students to become more aware that the TechHub covers computer repairs as well.
Lorgan chose to hold the grand opening of the TechHub strategically on the first day of Spring Quarter.
“Our grand opening will be March 31, which is the first day of Spring Quarter and it’s the busiest time in the bookstore,” Lorgan said. “There’ll be more people in the vicinity, more people than normal, so they’ll actually get to see the store because it’s a very high traffic period.”
Early student reaction to the new TechHub has been positive.
“I actually do like that it’s bigger. It’s good that there are more products there,” said Ahalya Prakash, a third-year microbiology major. “It’s a lot better than having a smaller one inside the bookstore.”
For Song Kim, a third-year civil engineering major, the TechHub has improved greatly by adopting a more modern design.
“It looks a lot like the Apple store when you go in. You get a sense of that environment. It’s more of a tech hub now,” Kim said. “It feels a little more fancy, a little more luxurious, that kind of feeling.”
However, Jonas Viernes, a first-year biochemistry and molecular biology major, does not see a huge difference between the new and old facility.
“I don’t really feel that it’s that much bigger than the old one,” Viernes said. “I’m kind of indifferent to moving the location. It doesn’t really matter to me. As long as they’re selling the same stuff at least and they don’t have to downsize on the products they have, I’m fine.”
In addition to relocating the TechHub, the bookstore will undergo other significant changes during the MU renovations. According to Lorgan, additional space will be recovered from the store through removing 16 offices currently located in the bookstore and turning them into retail space. Those offices will be moved to the fourth floor in the MU, which is currently undergoing renovations to create space for additional employees.
One of the major changes to the bookstore will include changing the entrances to abide to the current fire code. Because the current entrance of the bookstore is both the emergency exit of the store and the MU, Lorgan said the bookstore exit had to be changed in order to divide the number of people going through that single exit.
According to Lorgan, the current entrance will be closed off, and a window and two new exits will be created. One will be created by the corner near the new TechHub and ATMs and the other will be in the middle facing Freeborn Hall. Both exits require students to enter from outside the MU.
Additionally, the lockers at the front of the bookstore will be removed, and two fitting rooms will be added to the retail area. According to Lorgan, this is the first time the bookstore has been remodeled since 1989.
“A lot of people ask us for fitting rooms so they can try something on and we don’t have any,” Lorgan said. So we’re excited that we’re going to have two fitting rooms.”
During the nine months before bookstore renovations actually begin, Lorgan said the bookstore will expand its clothing selection into the TechHub’s old space.
Before the TechHub moved to its current location, that space was previously used for the MU Station Computer Lab, which was relocated to Wellman Hall in November.
Another major change to the bookstore includes its recent partnership with Amazon. According to Lorgan, UC Davis is the only university in the nation with this unique relationship.
As part of the partnership, Amazon recently installed two Amazon Locker systems at the MU and the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) for students to order items and have them safely delivered and securely stored at these locations when ready for pick-up. According to Lorgan, ordering packages via the Amazon Locker system will ensure students’ packages will not be stolen if students are unavailable during the time of delivery.
There are currently 66 lockers between the two buildings — 44 at the MU and 22 at the ARC. Lorgan anticipates expanding the lockers into other buildings as the program moves forward.
In order to pick up a package, students will enter their order number into the system, which will unlock the corresponding locker number holding the package. After delivery, students have 72 hours to pick up their package before it is returned back to Amazon for a refund.
According to Lorgan, when students enter their Davis zip code, Amazon will immediately alert the customer that there is an Amazon Locker near them and if they wish for their package to be delivered there. If ordered through the system, Amazon will also immediately recognize the customer as an Amazon Student, giving the benefit of free two-day shipping.
An Amazon Locker launch party was held on March 11 and 12 at the MU to showcase the new system and give away free items to those who experimented with it.
“We’re the only university in the country that has the pilot with Amazon right now. They chose us for a variety of reasons that we’re very proud about,” Lorgan said.
After working closely with the Student Advisory Council on the conception of the TechHub, Lorgan urges students to provide their feedback on the new facility on their website before its grand opening on March 31.
“We welcome student comments because this is a work in progress,” Lorgan said. We would love to hear advice. We built that for students. We want to hear from students. It’s not our idea; it’s the students’ ideas.”