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VCU announced Wednesday morning that Wal-Mart would be coming to campus.
It will be a part of the Wal-Mart on Campus pilot program, with only five other locations at other colleges, including Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, and University of Arkansas. They are smaller than an average Wal-Mart and are only found on college campuses.
The VCU location will be in a 4,000 square-foot store on Grace Street.
The primary focus of the store will be it’s pharmacy, which offers $4 prescriptions. Wal-Mart also hopes to employ graduates of the VCU pharmacy school at this location.
Diane Reynolds, assistant vice president for business services, has been working to increase retail around campus and thinks Wal-Mart will draw in other smaller business.
“Wal-Mart will act as an anchor store,” Reynolds said. “Other business will see this decision and will know there is opportunity here at VCU.”
With students on campus for eight and a half months out of the year, the school tries to attract business vendors who will remain successful yearround, but Reynolds said students are the main focus.
“As the on-campus housing increasing over the years the need for student services and products increases as well,” she said.
They will sell school supplies, basic groceries and VCU apparel. This Wal-Mart location will not have alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets on their shelves.
VCU has not entered into any financial agreement with Wal-Mart. A third party, the VCU Real Estate Foundation, owns the building location.
The VCU Real Estate Foundation was set up in the 1990s as an intermediary for VCU when buying property. Now, its goal is to help the university with its plans for expansion by buying up surrounding properties, said Brian Ohlinger, the former associate vice president of facilities management. However, they can also rent out space to private business, such as Wal-Mart, Thai Top Ten, Goshen Market and Jamaica House.
After a third party contractor did a survey for VCU last year on what retail locations students wanted to see on campus, the feedback pointed towards a Wal-Mart or Target, according to Reynolds.
There has been a loud opposition on the internet after the announcement was made. Just hours after the press release was picked up by media outlets there was a Facebook page titled “No Wal-Mart on Grace Street!”
“I’m torn about Wal-Mart because for those who need those prices it does fill that role, but then they knock all of the competitors out,” Jason Kress said, a junior fashion merchandising major.
“It will be cool to get school supplies cheaper,” Marina Williams said, a junior english major. “Barnes and Noble and Virginia Book Company are both too expensive.”