Associated Students UCLA officials are looking for ways to increase revenue from a new print shop in Ackerman Union.
The Bruin Custom Print center started selling T-shirt designs, poster printing and embroidery at the beginning of winter 2017. Since then, the shop has not gained much revenue, said ASUCLA Executive Director Bob Williams. He said ASUCLA is considering new products for the store and expanding its advertising.
Williams said ASUCLA created the center based on surveys conducted over three years that had overwhelming requests for a place to modify and print papers. The T-shirt and poster printing services Bruin Custom Print offers were added after the original idea was developed. Williams said sales of these products were not the shop’s original purpose and are not generating much revenue.
“It was never designed to be a big income store (but) I’d like to see it do better,” Williams said. “We want to have it open for a while before we start marketing more, so we have to to get our act together with the systems and ask customers what they like.”
At ASUCLA’s February meeting Williams also said he thinks the store may do better at the beginning of the academic year, when students need new books and supplies.
Guy Adams, the manager of Bruin Custom Print, said the center has mainly been receiving inquiries for price quotes from students and clubs, but many don’t end up purchasing. He said he hopes the inquiries will all go through by the end of this year, which would get them on track to break even on the $60,000 ASUCLA paid to create the center.
Adams said the sales for the center increased from January to February, but it still does not have as much activity as other stores in Ackerman Union. The center made $310 in sales in January and $2,676 in February.
Adams added the store now receives daily requests for prices, which he thinks indicates increasing interest. He also said he does not expect equally high revenue increases in subsequent months, but thinks there has been general improvement as more students learn about the store.
Some students said they have not used the center either because they had not heard of it or did not find its services useful.
Alex Lee, a graduate student in molecular and medical pharmacology, said he knew about the center, but has not used it yet. He said he plans to go in the future, most likely to use the poster printing service for presenting his research.
“I think the space is definitely useful, but perhaps, not necessary,” said Lee. “(The problem) may be that (it) is helpful at certain points during the school year and special circumstances, but it’s not something that you can use every day.”
Casey Kawano, a first-year pre-business economics student, said she thinks a lack of publicity might explain the center’s slow sales.
“I don’t think it’s so much a problem with their products, but that students don’t know about the service,” Kawano added.
However, Kawano said the custom printing in Ackerman Union is not something she would use herself.
“If I ever needed to print something on a T-shirt or poster, I would probably design it myself and use an online service that already exists,” she said. “Also I think Ackerman isn’t really the place to have it – academic services like this might be better suited in a library.”
Courtney Koenig, a first-year biology student, also said she never needs customizable printing and felt the space is unnecessary for the printing students actually need on a regular basis.
“I feel like there are a lot of places you can go to get printing for papers,” Koenig added.
Nicole Ng, a third-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology student, said she would consider using it for posters and T-shirts for her club. Ng added she thinks the low sales this quarter could be partially due to UCLA’s reputation for expensive services.