Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie
The new Amazon@Storrs package pick-up location in Storrs Center (Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie)

UConn students will have a new way to receive packages on campus when classes start next week: an Amazon pick-up location.

Amazon@Storrs, which opened in the Storrs Center two weeks ago, will serve as a pick-up and drop-off location for amazon packages. It’s Amazon’s first pick-up location in Connecticut and one of only 12 nationwide.

“What we’re trying to do is provide massive convenience for people,” said Amazon Campus General Manager Jon Alexander. “Not everyone has a car and can go on a shopping trip to get the things they need.”

Amazon customers (both students and local residents) can have their items shipped to the store for free and Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to take advantage of free overnight shipping to the store. Returns shipped out via the store will also be free.

“We’ve seen a really strong response from students at our existing locations,” Alexander said.

Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie
Mansfield town manager Matt Hart, left, and Mayor Paul Shapiro speak at the Amazon@Storrs opening Wednesday (Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie)

UConn was in the news last fall when a massive volume of packages, mostly from Amazon, swamped university mailrooms and caused long delays for students receiving mail. Students and administrators are hoping the new Amazon store will help manage some of the volume.

“If our customers can’t get their orders because their packages are stuck in the mailroom or stuck in the post office, that’s not a great customer experience. These [pick up locations] provide us a way to make sure our customers get their packages,” Alexander said.

Amazon has become extremely popular with students in recent years through textbook sales and discounted student Prime memberships.

The Daily Campus reported last fall that the university was receiving about four times as many packages as it had in the past and that the Storrs Post Office was forced to keep its staff at work until 3 a.m. to handle the higher volume. UConn’s mail services also had to hire more staff.

Despite Amazon’s popularity among students, Storrs-Mansfield Postmaster Valerie Connell isn’t worried that the new store will dry up their business, in part because the post office will still handle some Amazon deliveries to the store.

“I don’t anticipate it will have a huge effect on our business,” Connell said. “We deliver Amazon packages seven days a week right now. We still get about two pallets a day from Amazon.”

Alexander said some of the packages will arrive at the store from the Post Office and some will be delivered directly from Amazon fulfillment centers to the store.

Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie
Amazon campus associate Kasey Pekala, left, demonstrates for Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro how to access the lockers at the new Amazon@Storrs package pick-up location. Customers will get an email or text when their package arrives, and at the store they will scan a barcode on their smartphone and the locker containing their package will open. (Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie)

UConn’s own mail system relies on the Storrs-Mansfield Post Office. All student mail and packages get sent to the post office, where they’re sorted and then picked up three times a day and transported to UConn’s main mailroom. From their, mail is sorted and sent to individual dorms.

“Some students might find it more convenient to use the Amazon mailroom, particularly those in the Storrs Center apartments,” UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.

In addition to the Amazon Store, students also will have a new official university bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble this year. The 40-year-old non-profit Co-op bookstore was replaced this year based on concerns about its financial stability, in part because so many students have switched to Amazon for their textbooks.

Other universities such as UMass-Amherst, the University of California-Davis, and Purdue have struck deals with Amazon to use a co-branded website and distribution center as their primary bookstores. UConn’s Amazon store will not be affiliated directly with the university.

UConn junior Steven Kowlakowski said he bought textbooks that were only sold through UConn from the official bookstore, but he got the rest through Amazon. 

“I bought every book that wasn’t university-specific on Amazon. I always look at Amazon first and compare prices, since they’re almost always cheaper,” he said. “I’ll definitely use the store for free delivery. I think it will make it easier for students to get their books right away.”

Local Mansfield officials saw the store as a welcome service for town residents as well.

“This is the ideal business for our development . . . We like anything that brings people here to Storrs Center,” Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro said.

Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie
Inside the new Amazon@Storrs package pick-up location (Kristi Allen / CTNewsJunkie)