Tracking the history behind Tricolour Outlet

Some of you rely on this service for its affordable and convenient transportation to and from campus, others for schools supplies and gael swag, but do you know how Tricolour Outlet came to be? Keep reading to find out more on the history of this student staple!

Tricolour Express, the oldest aspect of the service, dates back to 1978. At first, it only went to Toronto and a one-way ticket cost about $12. It was so successful that by Thanksgiving of that same year it had expanded to include destinations of Montreal and Ottawa in addition to Toronto. It has been a Queen’s tradition ever since.

The Used Books element is the second oldest part of Tricolour. In 1988, Queen’s Christian Fellowship began a Used Bookstore (UBS) which they called the Queen’s Book Exchange, operating for the month of September out of McLaughlin Hall in the JDUC, until 1994. The goal of QCF was to raise money for the Kingston area and Queen’s charities, and they were wildly successful. In their best (and last) year they accumulated their highest ever revenue, enabling them to donate almost 30% of it to charity. In 1993, they felt that the book exchange was too big for them to run, and the AMS took on the project as a more permanent service for buying and selling used books. In its first year of operation in 1994/95, the UBS fell short of its projections – mostly due to the fact that QCF was volunteer-based, and the UBS paid staff wages.


It took them a few years, but in 2002-2003, the UBS had its most successful year yet, falling just short of one million dollars in revenue. The introduction of the Tricolour Express into this service played a large role in boosting profits. In 2005, the Used Bookstore split into The Green Room and Destinations. Tricolour Market was also created in this year, and all three struggled. In their second year of operations, Tricolour Market and the Green Room continued to struggle, while Destinations started to climb in profitability. The year after, in 07/08, The Used Bookstore (aka Green Room), and Tricolour Outfitters (aka Tricolour Market) amalgamated into TAMS, The AMS Merchandising Services. While in the past, Tricolour Market sold random items such as hula skirts and sushi kits, but then found a niche for clothing.

Skipping ahead to the end 2009/2010 – TAMS and Destinations were amalgamated into what we now know as Tricolour Outlet. This move was thought out to strategically reduce operating costs by streamlining staff and management teams. In its second year, the service improved, but a trend showing a lack of success in the service for such a long period of time reflected poorly, and it became a question as to whether or not the service is viable or not!


In 2012/2013, the service was re-evaluated and underwent substantial renovations to the physical space and worked to develop a consistent brand identity. Working with this model, the entire clothing and merchandise section was re-designed, and focus was placed on enhanced customer service and organization in the Travel, Used Books, School Supplies and Events portfolios. By re-establishing the service, Tricolour Outlet saw its most successful year yet since its history in 1978 raking in profits previously unseen for decades. This success proved that Tricolour Outlet is a competitive and relevant service to student life.

The service has continued to undergo physical renovations and has grown each year. Offering custom clothing or buttons orders and offer bus chartering services, this historic service allows students like you to design your own Queen’s merchandise and experiences! Not to mention they’ve got your back on the latest concert and event tickets. Tricolour Outlet has established itself as the campus one-stop shop that can satisfy any student’s needs. Whether you’re looking to buy some Queen’s clothing or merchandise to show off your Gael spirit, textbooks and school supplies to keep up in class, or bus tickets to go home for the weekend (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, or Toronto Pearson Airport), Tricolour Outlet is the store for you!

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Effective May 1 2022 our new address is (Lasalle) 146 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON K7L 2V8

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