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College Bookstores Go Beyond the Basics with Trendy Products

Posted by Stephanie Kubas on 8/30/12 11:00 PM
Topics: back to college, college retail, college store stories, merchandising

The following article, From backpacks to Buddha boards to ballerina tutus, college bookstores get trendy, was written by Earl Horlyk for the Sioux City Journal. View the article.

Inside Briar Cliff University's bookstore are items that every student will need, such as textbooks, backpacks and notepads.

And then, there are some unexpected yet useful things, like energy drinks, extension cords, even laundry detergent.

But there are plenty of stuff you'd never dream of seeing inside a college bookstore.

Tutus, anyone?

"These tutus are some of our fastest selling items," BCU bookstore manager Nancy Watson explained while showing off a ready supply of blue-and-yellow frills.

Um ... aren't tutus the things that ballerinas wear?

Well, yes, but these "Spirit" tutus are meant to be worn on one's head or arms during sport events.

"The kids love 'em because the tutus come in (BCU's) school colors," she said.

Another way to show school spirit is with a Briar Cliff Chargers "Number One" foam hand and jersey sleeve.

"This is actually pretty cool," observed BCU senior Sherin Parambaloth as she tried on the blue foam hand for size.

As much fun as it is to cheer on your team, college is, of course, a place of study. Watson had plenty of things to get students into the Zen swing of things.

"A Buddha Board is based on the Zen concept of living in the moment," she said, demonstrating on a newfangled erase message board. "You simply write on the surface with water. Once the water evaporates, your writing will magically disappear, leaving you with a clean slate and a clean state of mind."

If that's too existential for you, Watson also has boards to help your back after a long day in front of a computer.

"I bet this will be as popular with instructors as it is with students," she said of the multicolor Backjoys.

The newest item in the Morningside College bookstore isn't quite as ergonomically comfortable as its crosstown rival but it's much more environmentally friendly.

"A Bend-A-Bottle is a flexible bottle that can be folded up in a backpack when not in use," said Morningside College bookstore manager Duane Benson. "It's a space saver but, since it's reusable, it's also great for the environment."

Both Benson and Watson said college stores have evolved to include items other than books.

"Many students don't have transportation," Watson said. "That's why there is a demand for many different types of merchandise."

That includes apparel, often times from such well-known brands as Under Armour and Hurley.

"We are constantly looking for items that will trip the trigger for our students," Watson said, adding that she frequently asks the opinions of student bookstore workers regarding new product line.

"Trends are constantly changing," she said. "But we want to stay on the cutting edge."

How does your store stay ahead of student trends? What hot new products are you carrying this fall? Tell us in the comments section!

About Stephanie Kubas

Stephanie was our former MBS Marketing Communications Manager. She helped Foreword Online evolve from simple reposts from other industry-related sites, to original content sourced directly from our college stores. Although she no longer writes for Foreword Online, it still holds a special place in her heart.

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