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WSU to close downtown Spokane store

UPDATED: Fri., March 9, 2018, 9:50 a.m.

Lauren Hopkins adjusts a clothing display with store manager Bobbi Cypher, left, at the WSU Connections store in downtown Spokane on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The WSU Connections stores in Everett and Spokane will close in May. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Lauren Hopkins adjusts a clothing display with store manager Bobbi Cypher, left, at the WSU Connections store in downtown Spokane on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The WSU Connections stores in Everett and Spokane will close in May. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Washington State University will close its WSU Connections store in downtown Spokane by May 19, saying the decision was based on changes in customers’ shopping habits.

The store has operated at 615 W. Riverside Ave. since September 2014, selling licensed WSU apparel, wine and Cougar Gold cheese.

WSU launched the stores in Seattle, Everett and Spokane with the goal of enhancing the WSU brand in each community.

University officials began re-evaluating the concept last year, when the Rainier Tower mall – where the Seattle store was located – was slated for demolition.

“These stores were no longer turning a profit,” said Phil Weiler, WSU’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We looked at how much it was costing to keep the stores open. … Propping up a retail outlet was not the best use of funds.”

Since the WSU Connections stores opened, online shopping has become much more prevalent, Weiler said. In each of the communities where the stores were located, other outlets sell WSU apparel and merchandize, he said.

In Spokane, the WSU brand continues to grow through the opening of the new medical school and the growth of WSU-Spokane’s campus, Weiler said.

The WSU athletics ticket office in the Riverside Avenue location will remain open.

The WSU Connections store in Seattle closed last year, and the Everett store will close in early June.

The online WSU Connections store will close June 30, but shoppers can still purchase merchandise at the university’s main online store, Weiler said.

This story was updated to clarify that the Rainier Tower mall was slated for demolition.