Following a brief closure in June, Seton Hill University’s (SHU) bookstore has officially become a Barnes & Noble College bookstore. The contract with the old provider, Follett (formerly Neebo), also came to an end.
The bookstore was closed for a few weeks during the summer to allow Barnes & Noble to install their software and move the store around. Complete renovations to the store will be completed at the end of September and over fall break.
The plan is to build a wall to separate the books from the rest of the merchandise, to create a sort of “spirit store.” Since books are most popular during the first few weeks of classes, the wall will prevent books from being the main focus throughout the rest of the semester when students walk in.
The website for the SHU bookstore also received an overhaul. Students are now able to search for all of their required books for class all at once, instead of one class at a time. New merchandise and spirit wear is for sale both online and in store.
“I like the change,” said senior Ashlee Diemert. “It’s nice that the professor can put whether a book is an optional or required text online when you search for them.”
“They’ve been very accommodating and flexible,” said Barbara Hinkle, vice president of administration and the registrar at SHU. “They want to understand our culture here. What’s Seton Hill like? We’re not the same as Duquesne or Penn State. No two campuses are the same.”
“They believe that we know our customers better than Barnes & Noble knows our customers,” said Hinkle. “Which, I don’t know the book business. They’re the experts in running it and stocking it. We were able to keep Amy Biller and Shannon Davis on board. Amy knows what sells, what people ask for, like if sweatpants do better than hoodies. They know us, and Barnes & Noble respects our local market.”
Hinkle also mentioned that with previous bookstore contracts, the store would receive basic merchandise, and faculty and staff never had input in what they received.
“The transition has been wonderful,” said Amy Biller, the manager of the bookstore. “We love everything about Barnes & Noble. They’ve made the transition so smooth and they’ve been super supportive through the whole process.”
“The community, faculty and staff and students have really taken a liking to everything we’re able to offer,” she added.
Excluding textbooks, students will be able to use their Barnes & Noble gift cards, as well as membership cards. The membership is $25.00 a year and includes savings on certain merchandise and other benefits.
“It’s exciting for us to have a national retail brand on campus,” said Hinkle. “It’s tough for small colleges because we’re ‘small peanuts’ in the grand scheme of things. They know that they’re not going to make millions off of us.”
Another new addition is the change in the book voucher process. In the past, if a student had sufficient financial aid to get a refund and needed money to buy books, student accounts would fill out paperwork for eligibility. Barnes & Noble will now do book vouchers electronically, saving everyone time, as well as errors.
With Duquesne being the closest and one of the largest Barnes & Noble College providers, they’ll be able to deliver merchandise that SHU’s bookstore is low on instead of sending a mass shipment from their warehouse in Kansas. “They’re using their local resources to branch out to us,” said Hinkle.
Barnes & Noble has recently purchased a company that makes t-shirts, balloons and other merchandise. There’s a website that staff can go to and create their item with Seton Hill logos. Then, they can order a sample or order a large amount for events, like clubs or Christmas on the Hill.
“It’s much less expensive than what we’re used to and they’re just so flexible and quick. Our organizations, everyone has a budget that they live with, and if we can save money and have this great service, I’m excited about it!” said Hinkle.