The UMBC Bookstore’s Yum Shoppe has always been a student favorite. Bookstore Director Erin McGonigle remembers being a Yum Shoppe addict when she was a student. For the UMBC community, it truly is the convenience store with more. So, what do they do to inspire such student, alumni and community loyalty?
Catering to a diverse student population, the Yum Shoppe offers students affordable meal options and snacks that appeal to all. From fresh foods to vegan options and an extensive ethnic food selection, the store helps make everyone feel at home.
“We say to students, if there is something you like, we will try to get it in the store,” McGonigle said. “Students can make requests when they come into the store or DM [direct message] us on social media. They might say something like ‘Oh I wish you had this.’ Then we talk to them about the product and figure out what they specifically want. We can’t get everything because we are limited by what our vendors can bring, but we can get a lot.”
By offering international and regional items, the Yum Shoppe sets itself apart from the competition and makes every student feel welcome on campus.
“We have a large selection of Asian foods that students have requested. Things that they can’t easily find in a grocery store. We stock a lot of teas, Pocky and we have a variety of ramen noodles like spicy and kimchi flavors,” McGonigle said. “We also carry local products. In the south there is this cherry soda that has a big following. It’s called Cheerwine. It is made in North Carolina and people love it — to the point that we ship cases to people because they can’t find it anywhere else. That’s something a lot of convenience stores don’t do, but we do shipping. Cheerwine has a cult following. Their website lists all of the places that carry it, so we get business from their site, too.”
Another way the store stands apart is they are the only place allowed to stock non- Coca-Cola® products, giving loyal Pepsi® drinkers a place on campus to pick up their favorite beverage.
“We are a Coke campus, but at the Yum Shoppe, we are allowed to stock 30 percent of non-Coke products,” McGonigle said. “So, we can bring in Pepsi for those people who only drink Pepsi. We’re the only place they can get it on campus.”
Ms. McGonigle’s fond memories of the Yum Shoppe when she was a student at UMBC even inspired one of the store’s latest events, Yum Shoppe Addict.
“I know when I was a student here, I lived in the Yum Shoppe. It was my favorite place to go and get snacks and stuff,” McGonigle said. “Now, in the store, we are starting a Bingo-like event that we’re calling the Yum Shoppe Addict. Each day there will be a specific item of the day. When students come in and purchase that item on that day, they get a stamp on their Yum Shoppe Addict card. Each stamp level will unlock a different prize.”
The Yum Shoppe contributes to several of the UMBC Bookstore’s impressive list of events [link to other post]. It was a pivotal part of the Chopped in the Shoppe challenge and even joins in celebrating national days.
“On national sticky bun day, we had a company that donated 200 little honey buns, so anyone that made a purchase in the Yum Shoppe got one for free,” McGonigle said. “It was a lot of fun. It’s just a great way to inspire loyalty. Students checked out and were like, ‘Oh I got this free thing from the Yum Shoppe. I will go back there.’”