University Co-op interviews UT community about potential redesign

Emma Gueorguieva

The University Co-op surveyed students last week on potential changes to the store, including the addition of a lounge inside.

University Co-op CEO Cheryl Phifer said the Co-op is partnering with the College of Fine Arts’ School of Design and Creative Technologies to interview students, faculty, staff and alumni for improvement suggestions. The Co-op also offered an online survey to students to share their feedback. The survey was no longer active as of Oct. 22. 

The suggestions will be based on what shoppers and Co-op members want to improve regarding their shopping experience. The school will send the suggestions to the Co-op in the first week of November, said Julie Schell, executive director of Executive and Extended Education at the School of Design and Creative Technologies.

“(The feedback that we’re hearing is) providing more ways customers can be engaged, (such as) being able to sit down and spend time in the store,” Phifer said. “Whether that’s considering a textbook purchase or (enjoying) the atmosphere.”


According to a Twitter survey from the Co-op, the Co-op asked students about hammocks, couches or healthy food options within the store. Phifer said the Co-op is taking inspiration from stores such as outdoor lifestyle brand YETI, which emphasizes customer experience in their stores.

“At the end of the day, (the Co-op) is here to support students, faculty and staff,” Phifer said. “What students, faculty and staff need is important.”

Phifer said the Co-op was originally established as a cooperative in 1896, and the store typically changes its storefront every couple of decades. She said the current storefront was designed in the 1990s, so redesigning it would be consistent with this trend.

However, Phifer said the feedback the Co-op receives will determine their course of action and not necessarily result in a storefront change.

English sophomore Giulia Bonora said she is excited about the potential addition of a leisure area in the store. Bonora, who lives in West Campus, said there are not many places to study on The Drag besides coffee shops and that it is inconvenient to walk to campus to study.

Computer science freshman Malithy Wimalasooriya said she visited the Co-op for the first time Tuesday. She said she thinks the store should remain the same.

“The Co-Op looks fine right now,” Wimalasooriya said. “I like how the floors are separated by what (the store) is selling.”