The Campus Store

There’s been a campus store for a very long time. I knew it had moved around and that the business model had changed over time but there really isn’t any single collection or file I could go to in order to sort it out.  So I never tried–just too messy and time consuming for not much reward.

It turns out that that was a wise decisions because out of the clear blue sky the other day I came upon this nice little history of the enterprise written by long-time accounting professor Verne Simons:



The notes at the bottom are in President Pitzer’s handwriting so my best guess is that this was written near the beginning of his tenure in 1961, as he worked to understand Rice’s operations.

I have a couple of good images of the bookstore too. This first one was taken in 1951 when the store was in the basement of Fondren:


Nothing creepy about those heads at all.

And the second is undated (though it looks like the height of the crewcut era in the early ’60s). It’s clearly in the RMC but I’m having trouble understanding exactly where in the RMC. Any thoughts are welcome.


Bonus: An unusually alert faculty member sends this sad shot of the aftermath of last week’s cold snap. I walked over there today and it looks even more pitiful in person.


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16 Responses to The Campus Store

  1. Don Johnson says:

    The last photo of the Rice Campus Store looks to have been taken outside its entrance. Doesn’t look like that now, of course. And the photo was taken before the RMC expansion toward the stadium.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      So same spot as now, just that the building stops sooner?

      • I can see “Campus Store” above the double doors, so this is where the Campus Store existed when I was at Rice (1975-81). This photo is facing west. The double doors in the background open to the parking lot.

        The store had an upstairs with calculators (or slide rules for this photo), stationery, and clothing, then the textbooks were all downstairs. Downstairs was bigger than upstairs.

        Also, love the bold styles on the students. Three different widths of belts, including the super-thin belt on the dude on the far right. He’s also wearing a V-neck T-shirt, showing off some impressive chest hair. The other guys are wearing traditional white shirts. It might be summer because they all have the cuffs rolled up.

        The style-agnostic student is in the center. Jeans, no belt, white socks, and moccasins. No wool slacks and loafers for him. Probably an EE. Seriously, check the crisp cuffs on the pants the other guys are wearing.

        • And the photographer in the last store photo outside the entrance was standing just about where the (repeatedly hacked) Breakout machine resided.

        • grungy1973 says:

          Breakout and Dominos were favorites of the Rice Memorial College denizens.
          The two cocktail-style game units sat to the right of the Campus Store doors shown here.
          Both games had locks that were easily passed using “Miracle Key”, that was originally cut for the cabinets in the band hall. We would then toggle the simple switch that counted quarters going into the coin box and play until our eyes dried out (all of this after the RMC closed at 2am). After we beat the Breakout game, getting the highest possible score (896), and leaving it in a repeating bounce that we could walk away from, Mr. Red talked to an Atari rep at a student union convention in California. He asked them if they had one that was more challenging. Some time later, a new game arrived, and its lock was no more of a challenge, but the game itself was. After the first two walls of bricks, a third wall would appear, and the rules of play were… insane. It took a lot of nights to finally beat that wall.
          We found out much later that the programmer who developed Breakout was Steve Jobs.

        • almadenmike says:

          Steve Wozniak created most of Breakout (“It was hardware, not software.”), although Steve Jobs had the business contact with Nolan Bushnell and brought Woz in to design it. Here’s a link to a 48-minute video of Steve talking about his work with video games. ( Pong is at ~7:00; Breakout at ~9:00 and ~20:00.

  2. Richard Schafer says:

    At first I wondered if they were purchasing their rings, since I remember ordering mine at the door to the campus store. But then I looked closer at the stuff on the table and I think they’re ordering graduation announcements.

  3. grungy1973 says:

    Those are indeed the old west doors of the RMC, where it ended, before the Ley Student Center existed.
    The wall that once held those doors still exists, just beyond (whatever they call the snack shop outside of Sammy’s these days).
    The Campus Store extended beyond this, on the outside, on the north side, and there was a loading dock there, and a matching one on the other side of “G” lot, for Sammy’s.

    • Those double doors opened on a “9W” key. And the lock had a bad habit of not holding the bolt up even after unlocking it, requiring one to wrap your hand under the door and shove the bolt back up into the door.

  4. marmer01 says:

    There was a long period in the late 80s and 90s when the Campus Store was a significant Apple Computer dealer. In the early days of the Mac, Rice was part of an early Apple purchasing consortium and could get the machines at a discount.

  5. Michael Ross says:

    Are there any photos of the Lovett Hall store? Where in the building was it located (and which office currently has that space)?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I’ve never seen one. And it’s hard to figure out what was where in the old buildings because they’ve all been renumbered, sometimes several times. But just for fun . . . I’ll see what I can find.

  6. francis eugene 'gene' pratt The Rice Institute 1956 says:

    I wish you could get ALL your respondents — NOT just grungy and me — to list their Class Year at Rice.

    • grungy1973 says:

      (It’s the year I started, not my class year, for at least a couple of reasons (this is where the winking emoji would go), but I agree that it is helpful to have a time reference so that the other respondents understand which era of memories we have. Melissa’s the only one here who has the full picture, in this hub-and-spoke world.)

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