It was an award 20 years in the making for the Colorado State University Bookstore and the Collegiate Retailer of the Year Award now proudly sits on their mantle.
“It’s all about how you meet the needs of the students,” said CSU Bookstore Director John Parry. “Our staff is very proud.”
The National Association of College Stores presents the award to a college store that meets stiff criteria:
- Campus connection
- Academic support
- Customer commitment
- Shopping experience
- Workplace culture
In a statement, the NACS Foundation said the CSU Bookstore stood out with its commitment to both campus and community. Along with developing a wide network of partner groups on campus and working to support student orientation and other programs, the bookstore serves as a key partner of CSU’s “School is Cool” program, which helps local K-12 students with back-to-school supplies. The program has provided more than 40,000 supply bags to local students over its 25-year history, and for nearly two decades the bookstore has ordered low-cost, high-quality school supplies and delivered them.
“We support the campus and local community,” he said. “We also place a lot of effort in providing the lowest cost course materials to students and working to save them as much as possible.”
Last year alone, the CSU Bookstore saved students more than $4.7 million on course materials through the use of lower-priced options, used books and more.
Winning is about more than numbers, and Parry said the culture within his store had played a role to their winning ways.
“We have provided a culture which allows employees to be successful,” he said. “We give them (employees) duties and responsibilities commensurate with their role, and give them the direction that matches their skill and personality.”
With an enrollment of more than 33,000 for 2016, there is a diverse population and a lot happening on campus. Parry said one of his store’s keys to success was about focus, and he encourages other stores to do the same.
“Find the on-campus item you can excel at and be great at that one item,” he said. “Then move on to another item. Support whatever you can.”
Parry said campuses are different, and the focus of his store will be different from that of another school.“There are a lot of stores out there that are as good as or better than us,” he said. “Just document what you are doing and put the results in front of the administration and the world."