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Media Tip Sheet: Bucknell’s November Story Ideas

LEWISBURG, Pa. — These are Bucknell University story ideas that may interest you in November.

RETAIL HOLIDAY RETURN — Business analysts see more retailers changing their return policies this holiday shopping season, with some planning to shorten return windows while others are doing away with free shipping to help combat inflation and keep prices down for consumers. Freeman College of Management Professor Jimmy Chen, analytics & operations management, investigates the influence of suppliers’ allocation decisions and studies how retailers regulate their suppliers through vendor compliance programs. He reports that according to the monthly inventories-to-sales ratio statistics, various retail sectors have been able to stock up inventories since March 2021. Most notably, department stores, general merchandise (non-perishable goods) stores, warehouse clubs, home and auto supplies stores, variety and dollar stores, and furniture and appliance stores are among the retailers that are keeping their shelves and warehouses fully stocked. “As a result, we see other retailers trying to align their used-to-be-overly-generous return policies to their peers in the sectors,” Chen says. “For example, Bath & Body Works is reconsidering its 100% satisfaction guarantee by setting boundaries on what customers can return. In addition, facing high return logistic costs and excess inventory, some retailers might even let customers keep purchases instead of returning them.” Sustaining labor shortage, elevated logistic costs, and excess inventory are real struggles for retailers this holiday shopping season, according to Chen. “What’s worse, customers’ interest in big purchases is fading as they can now spend outside their homes on various categories without COVID lockdowns,” he says. “As a result, retailers face an increasingly uncertain market this holiday season.” CONTACT: Chen, 570-577-1678,

SBDC STUDENTS FUEL SMALL BIZ SATURDAY — Everyone knows that the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday,” as the celebrated start of holiday shopping season. But the following day — this year Saturday, Nov. 26 — is Small Business Saturday, which encourages consumers to celebrate and support small businesses within their communities with holiday purchases. Bucknell’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has certainly had a hand in the development of small businesses in communities in the Central Susquehanna Valley, and the SBDC’s 16 student consultants have given many of those businesses some hands-on support. “Bucknell’s SBDC is unique in that it offers services as diverse as management consulting and engineering assistance; as well as on-site startup incubator programs for early stage companies,” says Steve Stumbris, director of the Bucknell SBDC. The SBDC leverages student consultants’ expertise, allowing them to apply what they learn in the classroom in collaborative projects with area firms. Bucknell’s SBDC currently has seven Freeman College of Management students and nine College of Engineering students, who have provided ongoing business and digital services, marketing, financial services, and product development design expertise to give entrepreneurs the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. They have specifically benefited businesses in Danville, Lewisburg, and Sunbury; among others. CONTACT: Stumbris, 570-577-3791,

HARVESTING HYDROKINETIC ENERGY— A team of College of Engineering students have been working with the California-based company Adaptide over the last two years to design, build, develop and test a novel surface-piercing vertical axis marine hydrokinetic turbine which generates carbon-free energy. Under the guidance of Professor M. Laura Beninati, mechanical engineering, four students began the work last year as their senior design project. It continued this past summer, and currently mechanical engineering students Jan Schmid ’23 and Max Bohn ’23 are working with Beninati on it. “While most turbines are fully submerged in the water, this one is partially submerged piercing the water surface,” Beninati says. “The technology may be disruptive with regards to the levelized cost of energy.” The team is currently in the calculations/design stage for the next generation turbine and has a contract to work with Adaptide through May 2023. CONTACT: Beninati, 570-577-1886,


CONTACT: Mike Ferlazzo, 570-577-3212, 570-238-6266 (c),

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