Students are all over campus, and many college stores wish they could be too, especially during busy times like buyback. For Kennesaw State University Bookstore, that wish is now a reality; instead of waiting for students to come to them, they’re bringing the store to students with the creation of their very own Bookstore Bike.
“I was talking about remote locations with some of the other managers and we all agreed it would be great to find a way to more mobile, so we could target certain classes during finals,” explained Jeremy Johnson, director. “Someone threw out the concept of ice cream trucks, which sparked our original idea for the bike. A couple of Google searches and an approval process later, we were on our way!”
Based on Icicle Tricycles, a specialty bike designed to carry cargo, the store reverse engineered an image of what their Bookstore Bike would look like. They then talked to their on-campus bike shop to see what it would take to bring their vision to life.
“When they came to me, they had already done quite a bit of research on the initial design, but it was my job to figure out the mechanics,” described Ed Baltes, bicycle program coordinator at Kennesaw University. “I had never constructed anything like this before so there was a lot of trial and error, but because I’ve worked with bikes for a long time, it came fairly easy to me.”
Ed, who produced the custom bike in his spare time, was able to accomplish the fabrication and construction in only a week’s time.
“I’m a mechanic by trade and an artist as well, so this job combined two of my favorite things,” he said. “The biggest challenge was painting; the weather conditions weren’t ideal and I had to start over several times. Overall, though, it was an awesome project and I had a lot of fun making it!”
By partnering with a local vendor, the store was able to create the bike at a minimal cost, maximizing its impact. More importantly, however, it kept the work on campus and created a sense of community between the two departments.
“Ed did a tremendous job,” emphasized Johnson. “In total, the bike cost around $1500 to produce, but we’re hoping to recoup that with the revenue gained from the additional events we’re able to attend.”
The Bookstore Bike’s main function will be to mobilize their buyback, allowing staff members to be at anywhere from 8 to 10 campus locations throughout the course of a day.
“We plan to target specific classes with high dollar, open to buy textbooks,” he explained. “For instance, if a Biology class’ final lets out at 10 a.m., then we’ll be outside on the bike waiting with a sign that features the price of that course’s specific book. Of course, we’ll buy whatever comes our way, but the purpose is really to obtain more of the high-priority titles.”
Traveling in pairs of two, staff members will use a laptop to complete buyback transactions at each location. Although the store is still determining logistics, they plan to offer both cash and gift card options.
“Security is very important, so we’ll also have an unarmed guard at each location and a specific cash collection procedure in place,” Johnson added. “We’re going to make it as safe as possible for both our students and staff.”
Besides mobility, Johnson also hopes the bike will draw more attention to buyback. In the past, students have been confused by rogue buyers who don’t distinguish themselves from the official university bookstore. The bike, branded with the store’s logo, should help counteract that issue.
“We’re trying to put an official stamp on this, and let students know our buyback is a University-sanctioned event, unlike those rogue buyers who come into town for a week or two,” he explained. “Students will be able to feel comfortable when selling their books to us, knowing that the situation is safe and secure.”
Although the new on-the-go version of buyback has yet to make its official debut, the store thinks it will add an element of fun to selling books.
“It’s something different and we hope people will be excited about it,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, we think it will help us buy more books and offer a level of convenience that goes beyond what we’ve been able to provide at our remote locations. We really think it will be a win all-around.”
Kennesaw State University Bookstore doesn’t plan to park their bike after buyback, however. It will have a sales function, as well, according to Johnson.
“It has the potential to be involved in so many events,” he described. “We’ve already used it at a baseball game to offer a 2 for $10 t-shirt special and it was a big hit. That particular event was cash only, but we also plan to utilize our MBS Event POS for sales whenever possible.”
For now, the bike is being shown off in-store as a merchandise display. However, in just a few weeks, it will make its first official appearance on the streets of Kennesaw’s campus.
“Every time students pass it, they can’t help but stare, and we’ve had a lot of very favorable comments already,” Johnson said. “We’re all anxious to see if it generates the mobility and results that we’re hoping for.”