Retail Rev

FSU Retail Innovation Center prepares students for an ever-changing industry

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Courtesy FSU College of Business

Twenty-three FSU college of business students visited The Vitamin Shoppe on a recent NYC Retail Management Corporate Tour. 


What’s a high-tech, global, $5 trillion industry offering tremendous opportunities for career and income growth?

As the Florida State University College of Business explains it, the modern retail industry is far more expansive than meets the eye, encompassing everything from product development to changing technologies and customized supply chains.

The need for retail managers has never been greater, and the opportunities never so ripe for bright college graduates to launch a career in the retail world.

In a somewhat rare partnership, the FSU colleges of Business and Human Sciences have joined forces to cross academic lines and create the FSU Retail Innovation Center. The mission behind the joint venture is to make students job-ready, and to build upon a shared concept of integrating real-world experience into the science of retail.

FSU’s College of Human Sciences already runs the Retail, Merchandising and Product Development Center — or FSU Retail Center for short — under the leadership of industry veteran and Retail Center director Ann Langston.

Currently, the Retail Center mainly focuses on providing a point of synergy between retailing and related industries, the faculty and the students of the college’s Department of Retail, Merchandising and Product Development (RMPD).

In addition to hosting speakers and recruiters on campus, the center sponsors annual events focused on professionally developing the RMPD students: the Scholarship Dinner, where companies provide scholarships and networking opportunities for students; the Retail Summit, an intense conference with lectures featuring insider perspectives on the future of retailing and product development; and the Retail Focus Panel, which features FSU graduates with careers in the retail industry sharing advice with students.

The FSU College of Business, recognizing the value of such industry-student-faculty interactions, has for years had a cross-course requirement with the RMPD department, so students in either program are exposed to both the business and creative sides of retail management.

For Retail Center founder Jim McLaughlin, developing a next-generation Retail Center as a collaborative project was the natural next step in this fruitful partnership with his new “home” at the College of Business. He set the idea into motion, and colleague Luke Hopkins, assistant chair of the college’s Department of Marketing, worked with Langston to bring it to life.

“The Retail Innovation Center was fueled by a $350,000 investment from the Florida Retail Federation,” Langston explained. “Its members were interested in expanding the offerings for retail programs across academia and tying together the two approaches at FSU.”