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June 2000

NCAR Science Store debuts in the ML lobby

What's for sale?

Along with books, videos, and mugs, the Science Store is hoping to expand its selections even further over the next few weeks and months as space and demand warrant.

  • Clothing will start out with hats and 40th anniversary T-shirts. A solar eclipse T-shirt and other designs are also in the offing. Children's hats and shirts with embroidered images will also be available.

  • Candles and a travel mug are in the works, along with weather-themed jewelry, posters, note cards, and other gift items.

  • Among the products for kids being considered: inexpensive binoculars and telescopes, globes, star charts, weather prediction kits, magnet kits, and other products.

  • Toys for grownups: Heidi hopes to carry weather instruments, including a watch complete with altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. Another possibility is "the smallest scientifically accurate GPS unit," if arrangements can be made with the vendor, says Linda. •ZG

  • Changes in store for the EAC

    A major recommendation of the store consultants was to consolidate product development and sales for UCAR/NCAR. This means the Employee Activities Committee will no longer produce T- shirts or a T-shirt design contest. In addition, building receptionists will no longer be responsible for sales of T-shirts or other souvenirs .

    "We're very supportive of the new ML science store," says Joan Chiszar (MMM), former EAC chair. "In the long run, it's better for us," says Joan. "This will allow us to focus more of our time and energy on planning events. It's definitely a win-win situation for both the EAC and the ML Science Store."

    Heidi Lewis, Science Store manager, displays some of the items that will be available for purchase. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

    After a sneak preview during the 12 May Spring Fling, the NCAR Science Store is making its debut in the lobby of the Mesa Lab, with the official opening scheduled for the last week in May.

    The store was developed with a mission, says Karon Kelly, Information Support Services director: "to support outreach activities and educate public audiences about the atmosphere and the global environment." All proceeds from sales will go to the Friends of UCAR to support UCAR's educational mission.

    "I have a strong feeling that science exists to serve human betterment and improve human welfare."

    --Walter Orr Roberts

    How it happened

    In response to requests from both visitors and staff for a place to purchase books, mementos, and other products connected to NCAR, UCAR president Rick Anthes asked Karon to chair a UCAR-wide committee to study the feasibility of establishing a store. Following the committee's recommendations, the President's Council approved a plan for store development last fall.

    The committee engaged store consultants in its investigations. One of the people they consulted was Heidi Lewis, a marketing specialist who created the Celestial Seasonings visitor store. Heidi signed on as a staff member in January to get the store rolling. "When you start to create something, you want to keep going with it," she explains with a grin.

    Heidi is quick to credit colleagues who've participated in planning and development, including Annette Lampert and Linda Carbone (ISS). "My first day, Linda and Annette were right there. Without them I wouldn't have been able to jump right in." Connections with other key groups, such as Physical Plant Services, Finance, and Contracts, have been essential to rapid development of the store.

    The Science Store is really a kiosk nestled under the mezzanine staircase. To develop a design to fit the available space, Heidi and Linda worked with John Pereira, David Soule, and Randy Catton (PPS).

    Things you won't find anywhere else

    Books on earth and atmospheric science at all levels will be on sale, from preschool introductions up through technical works by NCAR and UCAR authors. Given the limited floor space of the kiosk, one of Heidi's biggest challenges at the moment is selecting which books to carry. To assist her with selection, the store will have a volunteer book committee headed by Peggy LeMone (MMM). If you'd like to serve on that committee, contact Heidi, ext. 1181, hlewis@ucar.edu.

    "The landscapes were like a violin bow that played upon my soul."


    Educational software and videos will also be available, including the NOVA/Frontline production on global change aired in April on PBS, "What's Up with the Weather?" The program includes interviews with several NCAR scientists.

    The store will also carry items not found elsewhere. To create souvenir coffee mugs, Heidi and Linda pored over hundreds of images in IDC's archives and Visual Communications' Digital Media Catalog. A view of the Mesa Lab against the Flatirons carries a quote from founding president Walt Roberts. A mug with a teal-green aurora borealis quotes Emerson: "The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." The lightning-flash mug has words from Stendahl, and the one sporting a rainbow arcing over a green field cites Shakespeare. Each mug will also carry a tag with a brief explanation of the atmospheric phenomenon portrayed.

    With environmental concerns in mind, Heidi is scrutinizing products for more than salability. "We'll avoid selecting items whose packaging is environmentally unfriendly," she says. She also plans to pass along shipping boxes and Styrofoam to Site Services for reuse.

    Eventually, many items for sale will be linked to specific ML exhibits, closing the educational circle. A display of crystals and prisms, for example, will have information directing visitors to the Blue Sky and Meteorological Optics exhibits. In many ways, "the store is an opportunity to really expand and reinforce our outreach and science education programs," Linda says.

    See the sidebar for more of the items now on hand or being planned. "The product lines will progress as we go along, so not everything will be there on day one," Heidi explains. She will be keeping her eyes and ears open to what visitors and staff want to see in the store "Please contact me with your ideas," says Heidi.

    "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."


    Hours, dollars, and sense

    The store will be open seven days a week. People planning evening functions may be able to request that the store be open during their event.

    Although not currently available, sales using employee debit cards may be added in the future. For now, staff may use cash, check, or credit cards. Heidi will apply an employee discount (now being determined) when staff show their ID cards at purchase. To make the store accessible to all staff, Heidi is working on a plan to handle sales at FL, Pearl Street, and Jeffco, including the possibility of an internal Web site with ordering information.

    As a retail business, the store will pay for its overhead, salaries, and other operating expenses. An evaluation of the store's continuing viability will be conducted in the spring of 2001. Heidi is optimistic about the store's potential for success and eager to see the first profits turned over to Friends of UCAR.

    "Since the store is in the midst of the exhibit space," says Heidi, "we'll be an extra source of information for visitors." If the first three principles of retailing are "location, location, location," the store is off to a good start.

    Zhenya Gallon

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