Bear Bucks continues expansion
When the Washington University Bear Bucks program debuted last fall, only two off-campus businesses accepted students’ campus card points. Since then, the Bear Bucks program has expanded to include 19 off-campus businesses, most of which are situated on the Delmar Loop.
The most recent additions include Ben & Jerry’s, Yoga Six and Market Pub House.
According to Rachel Reinagel, campus card services manager, more businesses are on the way.
“We are currently speaking with Domino’s Pizza in University City, and we are also looking to expand in the Central West End area,” she said. “A lot of employees and students at the Medical School simply want more options.”
To join the program, businesses must first contact the Campus Card Services office, which opened in Green Hall in June.
According to Reinagel, factors such as accessibility, popularity with students and image are all considered when deciding whether or not to accept a business into the Bear Bucks program.
While the logistics of distributing and reconciling card readers are handled by a third-party company, Campus Card Services maintains a dialogue with business owners, acting as an intermediary to express student opinions.
“Things are working pretty well right now, and [the Bear Bucks program] seems comforting for the students,” said Paul Goodloe, general manager of Bobo Noodle House.
While Campus Card Services strives to satisfy both students and businesses in the program, not all businesses pursued have reciprocated interest in participating.
Last year, a survey was conducted to determine which businesses students most hoped to see added to the Bear Bucks program. The top request, by a large margin, was Schnucks supermarket on Clayton Road. However, when Campus Card Services approached the grocer, Schnucks refused to join the program.
Since the program began last year, businesses like Bobo Noodle House have sought a way to accept Bear Bucks for deliveries on campus. With the new Campus Card Services office, delivery may become a real possibility.
“Delivery is a logistical problem,” Reinagel said. “The numbers that are tied to the accounts aren’t physically on the ID cards, so you couldn’t call in and give your account number to businesses over the phone. Right now, transactions only work by physically swiping the card. However, we are in the process of looking into mobile scanners.”
Reinagel said it is unlikely that Bear Bucks and meal points will merge in the future.
“I believe Bear Bucks will stay independent from meal points because meal points are directly linked to dining services on campus,” Reinagel said. “I could be wrong, you know. That’s something we haven’t discussed, and we’re open to suggestions from students and employees.”
She hopes to see more variation of businesses in future Bear Bucks expansions.
“I see the future consisting of a variety of businesses joining the Bear Bucks program,” she said. “Right now a majority of the businesses are restaurants. There is a need for various businesses to accept Bear Bucks including grocery stores, home goods stores, museums and even hair salons. I’m hoping to go in that direction.”
Students who have already used Bear Bucks in some of the new locations also hope to see more expansion in the future.
“I use [Bear Bucks] pretty much every weekend because we usually go to the Loop once a week,” sophomore Victoria Sgarro said. “We usually go to FroYo, and that’s pretty much the only place that I use Bear Bucks. I hope that [Bear Bucks] expands because I like using it more than using my own money. My parents pay for the Bear Bucks, but my own money is in my account.”
For more information about which business locations now accept Bear Bucks and which new ones are on the way, visit Campus Card Service’s new website, www.card.wustl.edu.