by Joslyn Aguilar
photography by Kaylie Ennis
The building sits practically on the corner of the University of La Verne campus. It is a small building with bright marquee lights that beckon you to enter, 24/7. Surely, it has quieted the saying that the sidewalks figuratively fold up at night in the La Verne Old Downtown area. This is the place where you go when you are hungry, thirsty or need an over the counter medical item. Yet, it is not controlled by the University. It is the Circle K, at the corner of D and Second streets, the one place that has never ending foot traffic. And it is much more than just being a store. Some students say that it saves them.
Hankering for a 79 cent polar pop? Walk on in. Want a meal to go? Coffee? Redbulls? Chips? Come on in. These are major life savers for college students. Who doesn’t want a midnight soda for less than a dollar—especially college students who are always on a budget. Then there is the other side to Circle K. It sells beer, wine and tobacco products. Since the University is a “dry” campus, this makes for “sneaky” college student behavior. But for many ULV students, it’s more than a simple liquor store. It is a bonding experience between friends, a place for food for those tight on money, a place for laughs, even if it is a place to start the night with a certain type of adult beverage. After on campus social events, Circle K is the place to get your snacks or drinks to curb those random cravings for Cheetos or iced coffee. The short walk there, is always a memory. It is a fun time to just talk to your friends. It is a late-night destination spot with an adventure tied to the trip.
Students say how essential Circle K has been to their college experience. Cheyenne Vargas, ULV senior communications major, says the store is iconic to the ULV experience. “I would be really upset if Circle K ever closed. I have made so many friends and memories there. It has almost been like a lifeline to my college experience.”
Circle K is something of a pressure release for ULV’s Bon Appetit food services. While Bon Appetit has Barbara’s Place that sells food and Starbucks themed coffee, it has short hours and sometimes long lines. Plus, it is cashless, which is problematic if all you have are dollar bills. Your money is not welcome; just Leo Bucks and credit/debit cards. Nevertheless, your dollar bills are welcome across the street at Circle K.
Selling alcohol so close to the University is unique. The city of La Verne once had a strong Women’s Temperance Union plus influential Church of the Brethren leadership that kept alcohol sales at a distance. However, La Verne students found liquor sales at historic liquor stores across the rail tracks in Pomona stores. Sometimes they brought it back to campus to the aptly named “Sneaky Park,” which had high hedges and places to hide out. The hedges are gone these days, but some of the park remains, with its towering Live Oak Tree and Landis Academic Center marking the historic area.
“Circle K is essential because as a college student I’m always running around so I forget to eat sometimes, and it provides me with snacks and my favorite cheap ice cream,” says Crista Alarcon-Luna, a ULV senior sociology major.
Others relate to the convenience factor like Kenneth Lorenzana, ULV senior accounting major. “As a senior at ULV, Circle K has become one of the most convenient places near campus. From very affordable snacks, to ice cream and food, Circle K has become a lifesaver for times when a quick snack is needed.”
For students who have no transportation, it’s a game changer. Justin Parks, a ULV junior sociology major, says, “Circle K has honestly been a lifesaver for me here. As someone without a car, having a convenience store a block away from campus is awesome. I will forever have memories of the 1 a.m. Circle K trips.”