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Park Union opens new cyber lounge, grocery store

Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Park Student Union employee Albert Santana stocks an aisle in the Park Avenue Market. The market, along with the computer center, has been moved to the upper floor.
By Seth Mauzy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 21, 2005
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Students may have noticed a few changes in the Park Student Union this semester, including a newly expanded convenience mart and a soon-to-open cyber lounge.

Signs for the new cyber lounge, located on the first floor near PSU's main entrance, proclaim that it will be open in October. But Jenny French, graduate assistant for operations and activities at PSU, said it could be next month before the doors are opened.

"We are still waiting for a few items that are on backorder, mostly furniture," French said.

She said there is no definite date set for the opening, but that PSU would be announcing an opening date sometime next week.

The cyber lounge will feature three computer workstations as well as wireless Internet access for laptops and printing capabilities. French said the lounge will be an ideal setting for students to relax and do class work, similar to the Honors Lounge in the Student Union Memorial Center.

"It will have more of a lounge atmosphere: a place for students to meet, do homework or chat," French said. "We've also had a lot of requests by students for printing capabilities and wireless at the Park Student Union, so we hope with this, those students' needs will be met."

Also new to PSU this semester is the Park Avenue Market, a convenience store located on the second floor that opened at the beginning of this semester.

The market offers a variety of foods and supplies popular with students, including breakfast cereals, chips, candy and microwavable meals.

Students unable to find what they are hungry for on the shelves also have the option of requesting specific items from the information desk, said Eddie Contreras, senior dining services attendant at PSU.

"When we opened we didn't carry Arizona Sun Tea, but a customer asked me about it, I spoke to my supervision and now we stock it," Contreras said. "We also have fresh eggs now because a student requested them."

Contreras said the market's most popular items this semester have been large boxes of breakfast cereal and milk. "They just fly off the shelves as soon as we stock them," Contreras said.

A similar market was located on the first floor of PSU as early as last fall, but plans to include the cyber lounge on the first floor and a need for more space moved the market upstairs for its reopening.

"We had more space to expand upstairs and make it more like the Highland Market," Contreras said. "I've been told by the students that we actually have a bit more of a selection than the U-Mart of Highland."

The market is especially convenient to students who live in the nearby residence halls and may not have transportation the grocery stores that are at least a mile from campus.

"I come in here almost every day, mostly for drinks and the frozen meals," said Brennen Blair, a systems engineering freshman and resident of Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall. "It's really convenient. Sometimes I can't find exactly what I'm looking for, but most of the time I can find something to eat."

But students can expect to pay for that convenience, as most of the store's items are priced a bit higher than they are at off-campus grocery stores.

"I eat at least one meal a day up here or sometimes just a candy bar," said Catherine Pimsner, a political science freshman who also works in the adjacent PSU food court. "I like the convenience of it being here, but sometimes I'd rather go to Safeway because it's so much more expensive here. Ben and Jerry's is over $5 a tub."

Lupita Lopez, supervisor senior for PSU, said that higher prices are a result of the lower buying power and smaller distributors than those used by large grocery store chains.

"When you buy a product at, say, Fry's, they got it at a lower cost than we would because their distributor is owned by Fry's," Lopez said. "We have to go through a middle man, so the cost is greater."

Lopez said she hopes that the market's success will show the industry that there is an expanded market for campus convenience stores, increasing buying power and eventually lowering prices.

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