BroncoFresh in Danger of Closing

By Daniel Tedford

Tucked away between a low trafficked staircase and the entrance
to the BSC’s Games Room Etc., it is easy to miss BroncoFresh as the
fresh food store mirrors the offices that sit across it as it rests
in its concealed corner.

In real estate location is key and that same principle can be
applied to business spots at Cal Poly’s campus. Kikko restaurant
occupied the place BroncoFresh currently does and chose to move due
to the spots low visibility. Now BroncoFresh, an endeavor put
together by both ASI and the Farm Store, is facing financial
difficulties and they feel the store’s hidden position is part of
the problem.

“That location has been a problem since it was constructed,”
said Michelle Bossie, a fourth-year communication studies student
and manager of BroncoFresh. “It is just an awkward location and
it’s like the only foot traffic that ever goes by there are people
who are actually going into the games room and a lot of people on
campus don’t even know that exists.”

The store was created in collaboration with ASI as the student
organization presented the idea to the Farm Store in hopes of
opening an alternative food source for students that was not only
Cal Poly related, but also a viable healthy option. Yet the store
has not seen a lot of business and many students still don’t know
that its doors are open and its shelves filled.

“Our biggest problem is that people don’t know that we are
there,” said Bossie. “Financially it has been a poor business
decision than the beneficial investment that we had been
hoping.”

Whether or not individuals will purchase food at the store is
not a concern for Bossie and those at BroncoFresh, but it is about
the challenge of creating awareness around campus that the shop
exists.

“It’s rare that we get people who make it into the store and
don’t buy anything,” said Bossie.

In order to increase awareness, BroncoFresh is working with an
ASI marketing team to implement a campaign to raise awareness
concerning the store. New signs and advertising are some of the
initial steps, but they are also using a secondary source that will
be conducting a focus group to see what products students want to
be brought in.

Along with that, the Bronco Student Center recently launched
some new ads of its own and they plan on incorporating BroncoFresh
into that by mid-spring quarter.

“We don’t know if that will be in enough time,” said a concerned
Bossie, who was given the task of trying to generate more revenue.
“If we aren’t able to gain awareness and some profit from the store
by the end of this quarter, it may not be there come fall.”

BroncoFresh provides students with healthy food choices.
Contrasting the fast food chains that occupy much of the food
service areas on campus, BroncoFresh sells fresh fruit – 25 cent
bananas and 50 cent pears, oranges, and peaches – and it is
incorporating ready packed salads and Amy’s Organic Frozen
meals.

“We are bringing in more actual complete meals,” said Bossie.
“Complete meals people can get on campus where you don’t
necessarily have to stand in the line at Subway and can still get a
healthy meal.”

In its infancy, the store kept limited supplies of fruits and
foods in its small space. Inside the petite room BroncoFresh looks
much like a small farmers’ market or a stand one might see on the
side of a farm heavy highway.

Jars of fruit preserves sit on shelves below dried fruit and
potato chips. Muchi all natural ice cream is sold with natural
juice drinks rather than Thrifty’s brand ice cream or Hi-C fruit
drinks.

Most of the items sold at Broncofresh can’t be simply found at
Pony Express or Carl’s Jr, even neighboring Stater Brothers.

Even with its current items, the store still plans on expanding
what it offers.

Originally, oranges, mandarins, apples, bananas and avocados
were sold there, but grapefruits, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums
and blood oranges are being added.

The slow business has created much motivation for those at the
Farm Store to transport a vast quantity and variety of foods to the
small on-campus location, but Bossie feels that it’s time to expand
as well as attempt to cater to consumer tastes and desires.

“We don’t do as much business as we would like to be doing,”
said Bossie. “It is not really cost and energy effective to be
hauling all that fruit back and forth because every time you move
fruit it does get damaged and we are not selling it fast enough to
be able to bring quantities down that allow for more fragile
handling. We are starting to bring a lot more produce down
though.”

At a slim 5’6,” Bossie does a lot of the food hauling herself as
she packs crates of fruits and other items into the back of her
truck to be sold at BroncoFresh.

She opens the store three days a week, collects what is needed
from the Farm Store around 8 a.m. and restocks BroncoFresh before
it opens at 9 a.m.

It is open Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“ASI wanted to fill that space with something on campus that
could be a snack alternative, like the Pony Express, but they could
offer some healthier foods, alternative, stuff like that,” said
Bossie. “I don’t know if we have 100 percent accomplished that goal
at this point, but we are trying to bring in more produce –
especially the stuff grown here at Cal Poly just to make it easier
(to) access than stuff at the Farm store because it is across the
street.”

Bossie wants to make it clear to students that the store is open
to student suggestions.

The Farm Store has three major suppliers and it is not difficult
for the store to fill requests for students if the desire is out
there.

Bossie is optimistic about the possibilities of the store if
students start to learn that it is an option.

According to Bossie, the Farm Store has been a staple at Cal
Poly and has a strong base of consumers that return to the store
consistently due to its quality, and she hopes that same devotion
and enjoyment can be transferred over to BroncoFresh.

“Spring is great; this is the best season for us,” she said.

Daniel Tedford can be reached by e-mail at
editorinchief@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-3530.

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New parking structure.

2,500 Open Parking Spots

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