The C-store has always been a student’s crutch. I remember it was in the old Lowry building on the first floor with a room so small and compact, you might think you’re in an urban bodega. And like a real convenience store, it had all the basic hygiene products, snacks, drinks and an array of coffee flavors waiting for a customer to purchase. Back then, I took a lot of this for granted. The cake bites and the cider were always a fun delectable treat to indulge in right before locking in for the nightly homework session on the second floor of Andrews Library. The microwave macaroni was the perfect rebound from long weekend nights with old friends who have long graduated or pursued other interests. It was great for the two years, even with COVID-19 and renovations getting in the way of some of these memories the older students had.
Nevertheless, she persisted. The C-store would remain intact as a staple part of the student life experience even when other college spots like Mom’s did not. The C-store’s iteration at Kittredge was a foretelling of a different future. Given its makeshift nature in an open dining area next to the tables where students could eat during the day for Oma Gourd or later for the late-night dining options they felt like serving at the time, the intimacy of the bodega-like atmosphere was gone and replaced with open air and superficial boundaries for its consumers. As a senior today, I speculate this is when shoplifting started to take its modern roots, but veteran staff would argue it’s always been the case.
And then came modernism in full fledged minimalist glory. The new permanent C-store finally came into fruition this year, despite certain pathways and features not being operable until some time later. But it was great to see it again I suppose. Consumerism in academia has continued to flourish, and now I’ve been able to see that perspective from the other side of the registrar. I have heard complaints of some employees being at odds with the students. However, I certainly now get why we are rude too. The staff certainly do more work under the covers than even I see during my weekly shifts. This is why the rising numbers of shoplifting make staff-student relations all more interesting. You’ve probably read a news article about it from earlier this semester. First with barriers, then with corner mirrors, later random campus safety patrols and now the walking pathways; the tone has certainly changed. So yeah, sorry I have to keep reminding you all to go right after I bagged your chips and ice cream on top of your niche latte order. It’s certainly been interesting to see these changes occur for a small business within a larger academic business and inherit some of the measures you might hear from the stores of your local city, not your college convenience store. But that is Wooster. Things will continue to change long after I write this.
On a campus where the dining hall menu is scrutinized, the STEM majors have colonized the tables of Old Main and the Knowlton line just might be longer than my senior thesis, the C-store has always been there to give the average Wooster student the getter-upper to keep carrying on during these four undergraduate years…if they have the flex money of course.