CINCINNATI — If you order a package from Amazon.com before noon, you can now pick it up the same day at Amazon’s new brick-and-mortar location near the University of Cincinnati.
And you can almost bet that whatever you ordered will be fresh from a nearby warehouse in Northern Kentucky.
The store that’s scheduled to open with some fanfare Thursday morning at 241 Calhoun St. in Clifton will be the fourth location in the country that’s designed primarily to serve college students, in this case some of the 44,000 who attend UC.
UC President Santa J. Ono is among the university officials scheduled to attend the grand opening on Thursday. City officials and Amazon executives also are expected to participate.
But the location inside the U Square at The Loop residential, office and commercial complex at the corner of Calhoun and Market streets – just off campus – isn’t exclusively for UC students.
Anyone who buys on Amazon.com or wants to return an item to the company is welcome at the new store, which will be fully staffed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, said Deborah Bass, a spokeswoman for the online retailer.
The Calhoun Street store, nestled between Starbucks and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, will provide free same-day delivery on millions of items as long as the order is placed before noon, Bass said. Members of Amazon Prime, which costs $99 per year, or Amazon Student can get free same-day delivery on orders placed before noon or free next-day delivery for orders that miss the noon cutoff time.
Bass said students are eligible for a free six-month trial of Amazon Student, which costs $49 per year after the trial period.
Items that can be picked up the day they are ordered have a “Pick it up TODAY” message below the price on Amazon.com, the retailer says on its “Amazon@Cincinnati” website.
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, became the first campus with an Amazon store last February and now has two locations, Bass said. She added that people on or near the campus “love the convenience” of the service. Amazon also has campus locations at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of California at Santa Barbara.
“There are a lot of reasons why we chose the University of Cincinnati,” Bass said. “It has a large student population, so it makes sense for us. It (the store) also is centrally located, which makes it a good fit for us.”
Amazon said the store should eliminate many of the unsuccessful delivery attempts, missing packages or mailroom delays common on college campuses, since ensuring delivery to addresses that include scores of apartments can be a challenge.
Customers have the option of picking up items at a service counter inside the store or retrieving them from an Amazon locker within the store. The code to open the locker will be delivered via email or text message, said Bass, who works in Seattle, where Amazon is based.
Bass stressed that the process is both convenient and secure.
If items are not picked up within five days, they will be returned to Amazon and the customer will receive a refund, Bass said. All items must be purchased through the website, because the store does not carry an inventory.
Bass acknowledged that many of the items available for same-day or next-day delivery may be coming from fulfillment center warehouses in Hebron near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Amazon has four massive warehouses just west of the airport. Two buildings on Worldwide Boulevard are assessed at just over $34 million; a warehouse on Litton Lane is valued at $14.3 million, and another building on Langley Drive is worth $22.1 million, according to Boone County Property Valuation Administrator records.
Amazon made it clear in a media release Tuesday that 2015 was monumental for the company.
For the year, the company said, it delivered more than one billion items for sellers located in 100 countries who sold products to customers in 185 countries. The number of sellers using Fulfillment By Amazon service increased by 50 percent last year, the company said.
On Cyber Monday, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, 23 million items were ordered from Amazon sellers, an increase of 40 percent compared to the same day a year earlier, the company said.