History of the MidStore: From Lone Storekeeper to Stunning New Shop

By Bill the Goat on August 16, 2022

History of the MidStore: From Lone Storekeeper to Stunning New Shop

The Midshipmen Store is a USNA tradition since the early days of the U.S. Naval Academy. The MidStore, as it’s commonly known, has evolved over the years, but has never lost its primary mission: To serve the Brigade of Midshipmen.

What is the MidStore? A Naval Academy Store and So Much More.

Located in the basement of Bancroft Hall (in both first & third wings,) the nearly 30,000 square foot store offers a variety of products to support the more than 4,400 midshipmen residing in the corridors above. 

Operated by the Naval Academy Business Services Division (NABSD), all proceeds are returned to the Brigade through contributions to the Midshipmen Welfare Fund.  

As a part of the Retail Division of NABSD, the Midshipmen Store, along with the USNA Gift Shop and Navyonline.com, offers tax-free shopping and an expansive selection of gifts, souvenirs, and Navy & Marine Corps merchandise.

Who Can Shop the MidStore?

DoD regulations limit patronage to the Midshipmen Store. While the USNA Gift Shop and  Navyonline.com are available to the general public, the MidStore is reserved for midshipmen, alumni, active and retired military personnel, those who support the Brigade including USNA faculty and staff and Blue and Gold Officers. Members of the Naval Academy Club are also authorized to shop.

Eligible patrons can apply for a Midshipmen Store Shopping Card here.

When is the MidStore Open?

Regular hours during the academic year are:

  • Monday – Friday: 7:30am- 4:00pm 
  • Saturday: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Sunday: CLOSED

Special hours occur on event weekends such as home football games and parent weekends. (Special Hours will be listed here.)

Changes Over the Years

The Academy was founded in 1845, and although there isn’t exact evidence pointing the origins of the Midshipmen Store, archives do show the need to provide supplies to the Brigade as early as 1865.

1865/1866: Admitted candidates were required to furnish themselves with these spare items: two navy blue uniform suits, one fatigue suit, two caps, an overcoat, six shirts, six pairs of socks and four pairs of drawers. Midshipmen were also expected to outfit themselves with a mattress and secure one looking-glass (what used to be the proper name for a mirror), washbasin, water pail, slop-bucket and one broom. “These articles may be obtained from the storekeeper of the academy, of good quality and at fair prices,” notes the logs. On admission, $100 would be deposited to purchase text books and other “authorized articles.”

1884/1885: By this time, the supply requirement listed prices, including: suspenders ($.38) were added to the list, along with twelve linen collars ($1.68), eight pairs of cuffs ($2.00), two spatter-cloths ($1.10), one oil-cloth ($.63), one jack-knife ($.53) and one paper-weight ($.45). The total spent  was $183.51.

1919: Congress passed an Act which prohibited the store from profiting, which limited the patronage to midshipmen only. By 1925, the Act was repealed. 

1977: By the seventies, the Midshipmen Store began resembling other college stores in the industry. A Midshipmen Store employee recounted this scene in March 1977: When you walked in the door, there were offices for the Manager, Assistant Manager, Store Secretary, and Military Officer. In the corner was a ladies room. The revolving door was a loading dock for access to the warehouse area. Orders were tracked by hand with pen and paper.

The store sold toiletries, cleaning supplies, civilian clothing, electronics, sporting goods with camping gear, Pendleton shirts, blankets, and a collection of gifts, including silver, crystal, high-end costume jewelry, Hummels, and other collectibles. It featured a bookstore with coffee, a photo-processing section and a 10-lane bowling alley. 

1984: This brochure shows the 1984 version of the Midshipmen Store. It reads, “The store offers everything from toiletries and uniforms to top-of-the-line fashion clothing, cameras, stereo equipment, and personal computers. It is a complete retail store.”

It also featured stuffed animal collections, a Hallmark section, CDs, stereo speakers, Swarovski crystal, and Yankee Candles.

1985: The Midshipmen Store moves into automation, purchasing a computer system to run the business.

1993/1994: In 1993, there was a big change when the Midshipmen Store was ordered to be open to all midshipmen, faculty, and staff. This was enacted in 1994.

1999: With looming Y2K challenges, the store purchased new registers and software to prepare; thankfully there were no crises.

2009: DVDs and software took center stage, along with beautifully showcased collectibles and gifts. Hallmark greeting cards (depicted below) had a strong presence:

2012: A few years later, midshipmen produced this wildly entertaining video homage to the store with their “Midshop” music video. You can walk through the 2012 store and enjoy some great beats too.

The Midshipmen Store Today

February 10, 2021: An extensive remodel occurred during the world-wide pandemic. On this date, the store had a ribbon cutting celebrating the newly freshened store. Included in the new design were additional ramps and walkways adding accessibility, and the addition of 1845 Coffee, a cafe that, along with the Marketplace, can remain open later in the evening for the midshipmen. 

Do you recognize any of these iterations of the store? Let us know! What did you love most about the Midshipmen Store when you visited? And what are you excited to see in today’s store?

We are proud to offer top quality REAL Navy clothing, gear and more at the MidStore. As the store continues to evolve in the upcoming years, NABSD and  the retail team remain committed to the founding principal… to serve the Brigade of Midshipmen.VISIT THE NAVAL ACADEMY

Bill the Goat

Written by Bill the Goat | August 16, 2022