New campus market feeds healthy-eating needs
Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau
Dave Kinchlow once did stand-up comedy and learned that if a joke falls flat, you need to fine-tune it for the next audience.
His job today is C-Store Manager for Sodexo, which manages convenience stores on the Grand Canyon University campus, so the audience is students. And they weren’t laughing when they told him they need more fruits and vegetables.
The new Herd Stop, on the ground floor of the Antelope Apartments, will fill nearly 20% of its 5,000 square foot store with produce. Its grand opening is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday with several vendors on hand to welcome parents and students back to campus after break.
“Eating properly is huge for the students on the GCU campus, and with the addition of that very large produce section we will be addressing a lot of those needs,” said Kinchlow, standing in the back section of the store, which is chilled to accommodate the three walls of shelves for fruits and vegetables.
“You will see so many colors exploding off of these merchandisers. Any produce you can think of will be housed in this room.”
Make no mistake: Students still like their quick and processed foods. His best sellers in the five other stores on campus are typically ramen noodles, boxed macaroni and cheese, and skillet meals and brownie mix and Oreos. They join ketchups and other staples and will occupy bigger 12-foot shelf sections – three times the size of other stores on campus.
But he has heard the need for healthier options, which also will include an expanded section for natural and organic items, including packaged items such as protein bars, but also soaps and cleaners.
“The normal ‘c-store’ you get some gum and soda, but the world has moved past that. We are keeping pace with that,” Kinchlow said. “Unlike me, everyone is trying to live longer, stay healthier. I applaud those that are trying to put the right things in their body. It’s becoming the majority of people who want to take care of that temple.”
Perhaps no one agrees more than Liz Cook, a GCU dietitian. She said a lot of students have told her that driving to a large retailer off campus is time consuming and difficult.
“A lot of young people are more health conscious than we give them credit for,” she said. “It’s good to have this on campus.”
Students also have jumped online to make requests of Jess Maichel, who runs the campus dining social media account as Sodexo’s marketing supervisor.
She heard requests for more alternative dairy products, such as soy or almond milks and cheeses, and gluten-free breads, so those will be stocked in the store.
The Herd Stop also will include other items unique to campus in a bigger space to accommodate an estimated 3,500 daily visitors among the several apartments new in 2019.
A deli counter will serve six different fresh-made sandwiches. A salad bar will be full of toppings not offered elsewhere on campus. Another merchandise case will house fresh Boar’s Head meats.
A small dining area with tables flanks a large bulletin board for student announcements and a coffee counter offering lattes and other caffeinated drinks.
“We’ve taken this to the level of almost like a community gathering center,” Kinchlow said.
Other new sections unique in the store include displays for athletic accessories, such as knee braces and protein powers because the store flanks a fitness facility, and a swimming pool items because a large one is right out the front door.
Herd Stop, which has a “soft opening” on Friday, will have more upscale offerings, including specialty pastry items and an expanded sushi section.
Kinchlow said the inventory is a living document with as much as 15% of it changing as he hears back from students.
“What I love about working on campus is the student body speaks to you. I just put stuff on shelves, but at the end of the day the student body creates what is on the shelves in my stores,” he said. “If enough of them walk in and see that I have addressed that need, that is exciting for me.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.