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Stagnant Den sales prompt strategy shift

By Ashar Memon, March 8 2019 —

Sales at The Den & Black Lounge have decreased over the past few years, according to the Students’ Union, who attribute the decline to a sluggish economy and decreasing alcohol sales.

Since 2015, overall sales have slumped by 4.7 per cent. The SU says the trend reflects the general decline in sales experienced by other restaurants in Alberta.

SU vice-president operations and finance Kevin Dang said the decline can mostly be chalked up to decreasing beverage sales, mainly alcohol. He said the exact reason for the decline is tough to isolate.

“It could be a bunch of different factors, we don’t know for sure,” Dang said. “Just by guessing, you could say maybe people just aren’t as interested in alcohol anymore. But that’s just me guessing.”

Food sales, however, buck the trend of declining sales. Dang says that an increase in food sales pushed up overall year-on-year sales by 1.1 per cent between 2017 and 2018. He also said that sales have been buoyed by new events in the space.

Some of The Den’s recent events have managed to draw considerable crowds. Last year, the SU hosted a popular Riverdale-themed night at The Den. Events like these draw students in, the SU says.

On the other hand, Thursden, a long-running campus staple known to draw long lineups, is particularly experiencing a decline in attendance.

“It’s a little less popular now a days, or students are going to different events,” Dang said. “We are taking some steps and trying to see what we can do differently. We’re doing SU socials, that’s something that we started last year and we’re trying to experiment with that a little bit.”

Dang said the SU works with The Den to change their strategy and alter event planning and will continue to do so in the long term.

The Den & Black Lounge is owned and operated by the SU. The Den, the downstairs area, previously received a $480,000 renovation with new lights, furniture and flooring in 2015.

“We want to, obviously, address student interests and appeal to that as it changes and it always changes,” Dang said. “I think that The Den is something that is really important for the SU and then on campus in general. It’s a tradition, so we do want to try to keep it fresh and keep things changing.”

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