the NCAR Science Store
remain open, the store must become self-sustaining by
next fiscal year
RAP’s Inger Gallo has long relied
on the NCAR Science Store as a place to buy the perfect item,
ranging from rolled-up blankets for RAP visitors to a weather
book for her father. “Since
its beginning, the science store has been a real asset, both
professionally and personally,” she says.
Lewis (right) assists Unidata’s Joanne Graham
at the FL2 satellite Science Store.
Unidata’s Jeff Weber agrees. “I
find the store a great place to acquire weather-
and science-related gifts for friends and family,” he
says. “I enjoy sharing weather and science
information, and the store makes this an easy and
Such praise has come often from both staffers
and Mesa Lab visitors ever since the NCAR Science
Store first opened its doors in June 2000. But
the store, whose start-up costs were supported
by UCAR’s general fund, now faces an uncertain
future with the organization facing tight budgets.
The President’s Council has decided that
the store needs to become self-sustaining by next
fiscal year or it will be closed.
Accordingly, store supervisor Heidi Lewis (EO)
is looking at both cutting costs and increasing
sales. Her plan is to sharply reduce losses this
year and make the store profitable in as short
a time as possible. “We’re determined
to keep the store open, since it provides such
great opportunities to get NCAR’s message
to students and the public,” Heidi explains.
Heidi’s key strategies to bolster the bottom
• Setting store hours to correspond with
the greatest number of visitors, which was tracked
through sales data. The store is now open from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and
will be open on weekends during the summer and
the December holiday season. (Previously the
store was open until 5 p.m., and on weekends
year round.) Some staffers have had to be laid
• Strengthening the visibility of the
store’s Web site (see On the Web). The
goal is to generate more sales through the Internet,
which has less overhead.
• Recruiting volunteers from staff and
the public who would like to help with the science
store and related educational activities.
• Working closely with administrators
and program managers to develop special products
for scientific projects and meetings. UCAR, NCAR,
and UOP conference organizers have ordered items
that were designed through the science store
such as NSDL pens, COMET hats, and even GLOBE
highlighters and yo-yos.
• Putting a greater emphasis on setting
up satellite stores for conferences held at the
Center Green auditorium or the Foothills Lab.
Attendees at such conferences are eligible for
the 10% discount that is always provided to UCAR
and NCAR staffers. The store also manages a booth
at major community events, such as the Boulder
• Reminding staff about the many items
sold by the science store, ranging from clothing
and books to educational toys, videos, and even
jewelry. Approximately one-third of the store’s
sales are to employees, so their support is important.
Heidi points out that items can be black bagged
to other campuses and gift-wrapped at no charge.
This graphic shows NCAR Science Store sales
trends, such as slower business on weekends.
Using this type of data, EO has determined
how to save costs and cut back store hours
without significantly sacrificing sales.
EO assistant director Susan Foster says it’s
important for the store to remain open because
of the many benefits it provides to the organization.
“We consider the science store to be a
vital component of our education and outreach mission,” she
says. “As with gift stores in museums, the
educational products carried by our store offer
an added value by enabling visitors to extend what
they have learned while viewing exhibits and taking
Store staffers play an important role by greeting
visitors to the ML, answering questions about the
exhibits and the institution, and managing the
audio tour equipment.
“I’ve observed them on multiple occasions
being ambassadors of UCAR to the public and doing
it wonderfully,” says COMET’s Wendy
Abshire. “They do a lot of intangible good
for the organization. Just providing a warm personal
face in the lobby when people walk through the
doors is so important. I think it would be a terrible
shame if the store went away.”
UCAR President Rick Anthes agrees. “Obviously,
are difficult budget times,” he says. “But we’re all hoping
the store can weather this period and continue to enhance our exhibit area.”
The science store also promotes and sells NCAR
scientists’ books. ESIG’s Mickey Glantz
says he’s received calls from people who’ve
purchased his books through the store and learned
that NCAR has a social science component.
For more information about the store or if you
or someone you know would like to volunteer, contact Heidi
Lewis (ext. 1181), or Annette
Lampert (ext. 2592). Or you can call the store
directly at 720-304-8670. •David Hosansky
store’s Web site
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