With coffee competitors around the corner, UM wants to remain a student hotspot
The Student Centre is bustling again and the Union Market is starting the year off with a fresh face. The student-run store is in the process of adding a third cash register and a new layout for easier coffee service. The store has already added a large grab ‘n’ go fridge along with gluten-free options. A grand reopening will take place in October, once renovations are complete.
The Union Market, owned and operated by the MSU, will soon have to compete with a new Starbucks moving into the Student Centre at the end of October.
“When the Starbucks went up on Main Street, we felt a bit of pressure,” said Matthew Bergen, Union Market manager.
Bergen said the Union Market will continue to bank on the student atmosphere that has kept regulars coming in over the years. He also wants to reach out to first years who may not know about the store because it doesn’t accept student meal cards.
“When you’re in first year, you’re just walking through the Student Centre – you’re in that bubble,” he said.
Bergen started working at the Union Market as a student two and a half years ago.
“I was paying my own way through school, so I needed a job. I really liked the environment here and how it was student-oriented. Everyone was on the same level,” he said. Bergen liked the student vibe so much that he applied to be manager twice.
When he started his term this past May, Bergen made it his mission to renovate the store. Since the Union Market first opened with the Student Centre in 2002, the store hasn’t had much more done than a few paint jobs.
Over ten years, the Union Market has seen its sales and traffic grow along with the student population. Now, with thousands of people passing through the Student Centre each day, the store is trying to catch up with its increased foot traffic. The Union Market currently sells between 2500-3000 cups of coffee a week.
While all full-time undergraduate students pay $122 toward operating costs of MSU services, the Union Market is one of the only MSU businesses that makes enough profit to help financially support other services.
Bergen said the Union Market is in a unique position as both a business and a part of a non-profit student organization.
“Our goal isn’t to widen our margins as much as we can or to mark up the prices,” Bergen said. “The Union Market is the only place on campus where you can get a coffee, yogurt, and fruit for under five bucks.”