University of Windsor students want campus grocery store

A member of the University of Windsor student government wants a grocery store on campus.

Erik Pigeon suggests student alliance could make $40,000 a year in rent

Students at the University of Western Ontario shop at the campus grocery store. (Facebook)

A member of the University of Windsor student government wants a grocery store on campus.

Erik Pigeon, the University of Windsor Student Alliance vice president of finance, is pushing the idea.

In an open letter to students, Pigeon said a campus pub is a proven financial failure.

When the Thirsty Scholar Pub closed its doors earlier this year, it was $1.2 million dollars in debt.

"For at least the past 10 years it has been losing money. Why are we going to open a bar/cafe on our campus again, in the same location?" Pigeon wrote.

In his letter, Pigeon claims the CEO of approached him about opening a grocery store and delivery service on campus. CEO Nathan Felder told CBC he doesn't want to comment on the Windsor possibility because talks are so preliminary.

A grocery store, Pigeon said, is low risk with the guaranteed rent going to student council.

According to Pigeon, the space previously used for the Thirsty Scholar Pub could generate approximately $40,000 in rent revenue for the UWSA.

"This will be run and managed by an entity separate from the UWSA. Their profit will be their profit, and their loss will be their loss," Pigeon wrote of the grocery chain.

The current plan for the former pub calls for a bookstore with a smaller, licensed cafe.

Aside from the bricks-and-mortar store, students can also place orders online and have them delivered to their dorm room, house or apartment.

Student Kiran Dhother is all for a grocery store on campus.

"I usually take the bus or walk and then cab it back if I have too much," Dhother said near the Metro grocery store at the intersection of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads. "I think it would be convenient for a lot of students too especially for students in residence and even those close by campus."

Campus grocery stores are already a success at Western in London and Queen’s in Kingston.

In Kingston, student council candidates ran on platforms that included bringing a grocery store to campus.

Queen’s student president Doug Johnson said the store there opened in February and employs 30 students.

He said the rent belongs to student government.

Johnson also said the store, which sells only healthy food options and is across from the gym, is "always packed."

The student council at Queen’s helps promote the store by offering cooking classes there, for example.

Windsor student council president Kim Orr said a grocery store only serves a minority of students. 

 "Seventy to 80 per cent of our students are actually commuter students. That means they live at home with maybe mom or dad and maybe they do the grocery shopping," Orr said.