A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday will herald the arrival of a unique Best Buy annex in the College Store on Maine Street, the product of a collaboration between the College and a seven-month-old entrepreneurial incubation group within the Best Buy Company.
"We're here to try to take care of everyone [in Brunswick], but our focus is on the College," said Ray Poulin, the Topsham General Manager who, with Bowdoin Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis, developed a business plan and pitched it to Best Buy leadership.
The annex will carry a subset of the Best Buy's inventory determined entirely by student demand, said Poulin. Items not stocked by the annex can be retrieved from the Topsham store.
Information Technology (IT) Manager of Networking Jason Lavoie made the first-ever purchase on Wednesday—an Eye-Fi wireless SD card for digital cameras that Lavoie said the Museum of Art plans to use for an exhibit.
"I think having a good electronics store downtown will create a buzz at the College Store and at Maine Street Station," said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley, who handled most of the negotiations with Best Buy.
"I think that's awesome," said Mac Routh '12. "People are definitely going to use that."
Sophomore Brian Gladstone, though, opposed the alignment of the College with a major corporation.
"I'm not comfortable with it," he said.
"Bowdoin tried to run a computer store in the past, and it never really made money," said Davis. President Mills expressed interest in trying again, but "it just seemed crazy for us to open one," hence the partnership. "So we have this really nice resource for almost nothing," Davis said.
The store is the first project ever approved by the Best Buy entrepreneurial group, and could serve as a model for future partnerships with other colleges.
"They're trying to learn from us," said Davis.
Poulin is excited about "great/fun ways to be involved in the community," he said. In addition to training services, "we plan on playing a big role in college activities." For instance, Poulin invites student groups to contact him so that the store can provide equipment for campus events, supplementing the existing IT equipment pool.
"My goal is to carry what the students need," said Poulin. "More feedback from the students on what we should carry will help us quite a bit."
Poulin invited students with feedback to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.