Electronics brands are so interested in the Tech Corner, a new store operated by Georgia Southern University's Auxiliary Services Division, that more than 20 plan to send representatives to the shop Friday, student move-in day.
"We have 22 vendors coming on that day to display their products, talk to students, show all their great technology that's out there. They're all excited. Even Apple is sending two people," said Eddie Mills, GSU associate vice president for Auxiliary Services.
The store also will sell Dell, Lenovo and Samsung computers, plus a variety of digital devices that are not exactly computers, from some you wear to some that could help you deejay a block party. It will also be open to the general public, except for a restriction regarding its sale of Apple computers.
In the ground floor of one of the four buildings of the Centennial Place residence hall at Chandler Road and Georgia Avenue, the Tech Corner occupies space formerly filled by Einstein Bros Bagels and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop. In a different sense, the Tech Corner takes the place of the even more generically named Computer Store, which was previously in the Information Technology Building, teeming with IT majors but remote to many other students, not to mention Statesboro residents.
"This gives more students access to technology that they're looking for, whether it's cellphone chargers, cases for their phones, or any accessory that plugs into an Apple product," Mills said. "We're going to have some DJ equipment in there. We've got students who enjoy doing that, so we're going to give it a shot. We're going to have a whole sports, fitness-wear area."
He means an area devoted to wearable technology, such as fitness trackers by makers such as TomTom and Garmin. Swim.Bike.Run will be a local partner in providing exercise equipment for use in trying out some of theseBouti items.
'Boutique by Brand'
The Tech Corner is being set up on a "boutique by brand," format with separate display areas devoted to different uses for technology, and different brands, explained Bill Gargano, the director of the Computer Store and now of the Tech Corner.
"It's going to be a totally different store concept than most stores on college campuses," Gargano said last Friday, while overseeing the set-up of some display tables.
At 5,700 square feet, the new place will double the space of the Computer Store, so he definitely has more to manage.
Sixty feet of wall space is devoted to headphones alone. Brands include Skullcandy and Beats by Dre. Some of the displays will include demonstration models with music for trying the headphones on for sound.
In addition to the branded displays, the store contains a "brand mixing area" that will allow customers to see how different companies' products work together.
The Tech Corner also has a training room. Store personnel and manufacturer reps will provide instruction on topics such as "how to use your tablet with your home computer to make it more portable" and "how to use storage that's in the cloud so you don't have to have a lot of storage" on your device, Gargano added.
The Apple sales restriction applies to computers, but not to accessories and other Apple items, which can be purchased by the general public, Mills said. The Tech Corner, like the Computer Store before it, is barred from selling Apple computing hardware to anyone except GSU students or employees who have a university ID. This is because the university participates in an Apple program providing these items at a discount for educational purposes.
However, the Tech Corner can service anyone's Apple computer in or out of warranty, Gargano said. The store has a service center staffed by five technicians, including two full-time and three student employees, typically from the IT program, who rotate through.
"This is going to be really good for the community, too, because we can service all brands of computers, especially out of warranty," he said. "In warranty, for the (non-university) community we can only do Apple."
Meanwhile, GUSmart, a combination deli and convenience store, is slated to be open by Monday, the first day of classes, inside the Russell Union, Georgia Southern's main student center. There, it replaces the now vanished restaurant called Talons Grill.
"We felt like we were underserving our students from a grab-and-go kind of concept, so they'll be able to go into the GUSmart and they can get things like ready-made salads, ready-made sandwiches," Mills said. "They can have their own sandwich made to order. We're going to do some different things with doughnuts, coffee, fountain drinks."
Again in a different sense, GUSmart replaces a smaller convenience store that has been eliminated at Centennial Place. The Auxiliary Services staff has made some strategic decisions about space usage and placement of its stores to reach the most students, Mills explained.
Besides supplying needs and wants of students, GSU employees and sometimes the broader community, Auxiliary Services is the largest on-campus creator of student jobs, having employed about 750 students last year, Mills said.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9454.