New bookstore works to provide supplies, materials


New location, new partnership, new design, new features: the Barnes & Noble bookstore has served the Mount Mary College community for a year as of May 2 and has been in the new location since August.

Depending on individuals’ needs and preferences, reactions to the changes have been mixed.

Students can choose from new, used, digital and rental textbooks for most classes or shop online. Whitney Baumgard, store manager, said the old bookstore didn’t offer all of these options. The location is more convenient to the students, faculty and staff. Baumgard said she has received compliments and the new location has been a lure for customers.

Mount Mary College Bookstore

Photo by BARBARA KOLB Allison Jarrett, senior fashion product apparel major, straightens up a display of books in the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Mount Mary College. Jarrett has worked in the bookstore since its reopening as a Barnes & Noble store.

Reyes Gonzalez, chief financial officer for Mount Mary, also believes the bookstore is running smoothly.

“Barnes & Noble is professional in delivering service to our community. More important is the students’ perception of their services,” Gonzalez said.

“I can remark that standalone sales figures may not be a reliable measurement of success, since the bookstore marketplace is always fluctuating,” he continued. “For instance, students are purchasing more books from alternative online sources; however, they now have access to new, innovative products right here on campus.”

Alicia Scott, a junior majoring in social work, likes the new bookstore and thinks it does a great job of giving people what they need. “Especially when they don’t have the book you are looking for, they order the book in a timely manner,” she said, noting the nicer appearance and better apparel selection as well.

Gonzalez said the true measure of success is whether the students’ needs are being met. Some students say they’re not.

Olivia Ellis, a resident senior majoring in fine arts, said she hasn’t had a very good experience. She said the store doesn’t offer enough art supplies. She preferred the old bookstore with its variety of useful items for students, while she said the new bookstore has too many earphones and recorders, for example.

The bookstore initially only had emergency-sized packs of tampons, provoking her to put in a request for larger boxes. “It took them a very long time [roughly a month] to get necessities [considering] this is an all-women’s college. Why wouldn’t we have pads or tampons?” Ellis said. However, she’s satisfied now that the bookstore has them in stock.

Stocking of supplies has also affected classes. Sister Cindy Brune’s 2-D Design class needed supplies last semester that the new bookstore didn’t have in stock. Students ended up sharing supplies to complete projects, according to freshman fine arts major Rennie Cook.

Ironically, there were some supplies on the students’ lists in storage from the previous bookstore that couldn’t be priced, stocked or sold because Barnes & Noble only uses certain suppliers and did not have a price references in their system.

Brune said Barnes & Noble needed to consult with its central office prior to the start of the semester regarding whether or not supplies could be ordered or taken out of storage. There was even talk of Brune possibly selling supplies out of her classroom, but she didn’t want to do that.

This was Brune’s first experience teaching the class alone, and she felt bad for her students not having supplies. According to Brune, the old bookstore ordered classroom supplies and stocked them right away. She said there was “a lapse in communication and getting resources” with the transition to the new store.

Baumgard said as of this past March, all supplies from the previous bookstore have been liquidated. Those that could be priced were put out for students to purchase as soon as possible. She also said any remaining problems not yet addressed will be worked on.

“It is a constant work in progress but as we work with faculty, we can better assess those needs and bring in the items needed for the courses,” Baumgard said.

The next challenge for the bookstore will be to prepare for the college’s transition to university status; however, students will have more art supplies.

Nastassia Putz contributed to this story.

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