By Sam Lenhart —
The Niche, a boutique on the University of Wisconsin–Stout campus, is once again open for the 2014 fall semester.
Entirely loaded with new merchandise, The Niche has something for everyone on campus. The school boutique offers everything from affordable gifts, accessories, food, beverages and even apparel.
“The Niche offers several gourmet snacks that you cannot find at the Memorial Student Center,” said senior and Niche Assistant Manager, Jasmine Futrell-Mcgee. “Yogurt covered pretzels in a variety of flavors, chocolates and even coffee that we buy specifically for The Niche are available to students.”
Clothing merchandise is also available at The Niche.
“We also sell a variety of fashion merchandise that the bookstore does not sell, like cardigans and blouses,” said Futrell-Mcgee.
The merchandise available at The Niche is not the only thing that makes the student-run store unique to Stout’s campus. Students working in the boutique are volunteers in need of satisfying practicum requirements.
“It’s treated as an unpaid internship,” said Futrell-Mcgee. “All of the work in the store is volunteered and is meant to give students first-hand experience in buying and store operations, similar to what they would be doing on an internship, but here in Menomonie.”
All students working for the campus store serve as assistant managers and are in charge of every detail of the store operations, buying merchandise, pricing the merchandise, entering and maintaining inventory and running the store.
Each year the students running the boutique are provided a budget for purchasing store products. Once that budget has been organized into categories of products, the students attend buying shows in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“We decide what to buy based on last year’s sales and what we think will sell,” said Futrell-Mcgee. “It is totally up to the students to decide what to buy.”
Unfortunately for the male student body, The Niche does not offer men’s apparel at this time, which is something the store is hoping to change.
“We’re working on bringing products in that are more geared toward males. Most of the products we have are geared toward females because that’s our main customer demographic,” Futrell-Mcgee stated. “But don’t let that stop you from grabbing a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels or gourmet coffee on your way to class.”
Located on the second floor of Heritage Hall, The Niche is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.