Leonardtown convenience store will close at the end of the spring semester

The aisles of Leonardtown convenience store in the Leonardtown Community Center on March 3, 2020. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

The Leonardtown convenience store will close at the end of the spring semester after financial difficulties, said Dining Services spokesperson Bart Hipple.

The shop, located between New and Old Leonardtown, is one of five convenience stores on campus. But it has struggled to bring in any money over the past couple of years, Hipple said.

“We love having a presence on that side of Route 1,” Hipple said. “We love being able to serve students who live on that side of campus, but we don’t see any possibility of that being economically even neutral.”

When the Target Express opened on Route 1 about five years ago, residents stopped going to the convenience store, Hipple said in an interview last month.

At about the same time that Target opened, the Leonardtown Community Center also locked its doors to those who aren’t affiliated with the university, shifting to a swipe access system, Hipple said.

“Before that, they could just wander in and get a cup of coffee or a hairband or whatever they needed,” Hipple said. “It really cut down the business of Leonardtown when you had to buzz in.”

Dining Services lost money for every hour the shop was open, and it couldn’t even break even, Hipple said.

Yvonne Romero, a neurobiology and physiology major who lives in the Leonardtown Community said she preferred Target and the Commons Shop since there are more options.

Vending machines, she said, could replace the shop.

Leonardtown convenience store in the Leonardtown Community Center. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

“I feel like the shop tends to be used for snacks and vending machines would be the perfect replacement for this,” Romero said. “Do like a drink one, another for a snack, maybe a cold one for sandwiches or ice cream.”

On the other hand, Delina Peter, a sophomore who lives in New Leonardtown, is a regular at the shop. Peter goes into the store all the time, whether before class or before closing time.

She said she’s purchased everything from snacks to laundry detergent to paper plates at the store. She said she’s always bummed when she walks over only to find that it’s closed for the night.

“It’s so convenient instead of walking all the way to Target or all the way to CVS for some snacks,” Peter said.

Alexus Shaw, a sophomore biology major who lives in New Leonardtown, said that closing the store would be a disservice to the New Leonardtown residents.

“It’s like the closest thing to use where we can use our Dining Dollars,” Shaw said. “Where’s the closest thing now?”

Even though the convenience shop will be closing, the Leonardtown Community Center, which houses a community desk and laundry facilities, will continue normal operations to serve the residents of Leonardtown, Resident Life spokesperson Tracy Kiras wrote in an email.

Future demolitions of apartment buildings in Old Leonardtown will also reshape the area. Hipple doesn’t know what will replace Old Leonardtown, but he said he’d like to maintain a Dining Services presence on that side of campus.

“If there was a way to do that that was even financially neutral we would like to do that but we would have to believe that whatever we do there was going to break even or make a profit,” Hipple said.

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