A group of Mays Business School students attended the annual New York City Market Tour, which the Center for Retailing Studies hosts, immersing students in business tours and dynamic cultural experiences they cannot get in Central Texas.

Open to the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars and members of the Student Retailing Association, this one-of-a-kind spring break travel opportunity provides students aspiring to careers in retail a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s greatest brands and retail flagship stores in Manhattan.

“In preparation, I thought about all the different versions of the city that I had seen from sitcoms and movies and had high expectations going in,” said Allison McGraw ’19. “New York blew my expectations out of the park!”

During the five-day stay, students had time to explore the city, enjoy delicious food and visit landmarks that included Grand Central Station, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, SoHo, The Empire State Building, Central Park, Fifth Avenue and the Statue of Liberty.

Taking advantage of the vast amount of cultural activities New York has to offer, CRS arranged a guided group tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“It was a cool experience to be in a city with so many diverse, different and unique people,” said Payton Cupstid ’19.

Students also experienced the challenges of getting around during Winter Storm Stella, which dropped 3-5 feet of snow during the week.

“Even with the blizzard altering some of our plans, it was a great way for me to get a realistic view of what life in New York can look like,” said Tess Williamson ’17.

NYC stores showcase the latest technology, including “digital changing rooms and interactive mirrors at Rebecca Minkoff,” said Lauren Osborne ’05, program manager and lead trip organizer. “Online-only companies that have expanded to brick and mortar, like Birchbox, allow our students to see first-hand the different operational models they learned about in classes, which really brings things full circle for them.”

Past appointments have taken the group to meet with executives at the JCPenney Design Office, Gilt Groupe, Build-a-Bear, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, The Container Store Distribution Center, Charming Charlie, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s Herald Square and more.

“I loved learning about how the wholesale team interacts with department stores and how they work to represent their brand through these retailers,” Williamson said after a tour of Coach’s new flagship store on Fifth Avenue.

On the final morning, the center hosts a former student breakfast where recent graduates and other Aggie alumni mentor current students about life in the Big Apple.

“Listening to them explain the adjustment they had to make and how much they love it gave me a clearer vision of myself living there one day,” said Shelby Barhorst ’19.

By sharing practical advice for interviewing, finding a job and advancing your career, former students provide students encouragement that living the New York dream is possible.

“Going on this trip made me want to return to Texas A&M and be the best I can be in all aspects of life so that one day I can return to New York City,” said Cupstid.