Bookstore is the spine of campus
The University of Arizona Bookstore has spent months preparing for the fall semester, and it is finally here.
The Bookstore is an ever-active system of moving parts. To put on any event means weeks to months of effective collaboration and preparation, and there is a lot of ground to cover, according to the marketing team.
“Everything has to be prepped for student orientation,” said Hannah Rapp, a third year student studying marketing and entrepreneurship at the UA and student lead at the Bookstore. “We want to make sure all of the merchandise and our pop-up shops are ready for back-to-school."
Merchandise like clothing was ordered six months in advance, certain events were prepared two to three months in advance and, marketing-wise, coordinated six weeks in advance.
“[It is] all hands on deck, we are training new people that are joining the team and everybody is just working really hard on the floor to prepare for the new semester,” Rapp said.
According to Rapp, the Bookstore is the core of UA life and culture.
“The Bookstore has always been like the hub of campus,” Rapp said. “We get everyone from students to families to professors coming in. I have met people from all different kinds of departments, been able to learn from a lot of different people with a lot of experiences.”
The Bookstore plays a major role in starting up the school year and in any major event on campus like football games, block parties and orientations.
It often partners with on-campus clubs and organizations and also organize and participate in many off-campus events to promote the university, attract new students and families and to encourage early childhood literacy.
The UA Bookstore has changed immeasurably since it began, unofficially, in the basement of Old Main in 1928.
It now has several locations on- and off-campus and each one is unique in the merchandise it offers. For example, Wildcat Threads inside the Rec Center specializes in sneakers and sportswear.
The Bookstore’s main location at the Student Union Memorial Center has two large sale floors dedicated to anything UA students could ever want or need, Rapp said.
“When it comes to buying, our buyer has a wealth of knowledge about what is happening trend-wise as well as the customer audience we are trying to appeal to,” Rapp said.
It offers everything from textbooks to best sellers, university accessories to season-appropriate fashion and school supplies to technology. There is even an authorized Apple campus store on the bottom floor, complete with a service desk for computer and iPad repairs.
The Bookstore also offers deals and discounts for students on items like textbooks and technology.
Students can save up to $200 on Apple products and with purchase of qualifying Mac computers, they can get a free pair of wireless Beats headphones. There are also regular Bear Down sales just before all UA football games, where everything is 25 percent off.
According to Rapp, the variety of things offered at the UA Bookstore is an invaluable resource, especially for out-of-state and international students. It can be difficult to buy commodities from malls and other store outlets around the city without a reliable mode of transportation, so having everything in one place is vital to student success.
“The Bookstore is definitely a one-stop-shop as far as retail goes,” said Chelsea Andrews, assistant program coordinator at the UA Bookstore.
Andrews, who recently graduated, has been working at the Bookstore for two years as a student employee.
“Working at the Bookstore has been a tremendous, positive experience,” Andrews said. “It has helped me build connections and communication skills that transfer not only to the professional world, but to the classroom.”
According the the Bookstore's manager of marketing and strategic communications, Dennis Lusiana, the Bookstore has the capacity to hire just under 550 students every year. It has one of the largest student worker programs at the UA.
“[Student] employment here at the Bookstore is a very crucial part of helping the Bookstore run. It’s a way we invite incoming students to come, have an awesome job on campus that is flexible, ” Andrews said. “That is an important part of who we are. We are not just a retailer, we employ so many students and give them endless opportunities.”
The Bookstore has faculty fellows that it partners with to assist students with resumes and cover letters to benefit students as they move forward in their professional careers.
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According to Andrews, the Bookstore is the perfect job opportunity for UA students, as it not only teaches them how to live in a professional world, but offers experiences unlike any other, presents opportunities to make invaluable connections and is accommodating to student life.
“They understand that you are a student,” Andrews said. “There is flexibility in schedule making.”
According to Lusiana, student employment and engagement is just one way the UA Bookstore financially supports students. The Bookstore is university owned and plays a crucial part in UA finances, as well as provides book loans to some employees.
“Every single dollar made [at the Bookstore] goes back to supporting the students,” Rapp said. “That is why we have the slogan, ‘Buy UA, For UA’. Everything is benefiting them.”
According to Lusiana, everything the Bookstore does—the variety of merchandise, great deals, student employment—is to make student life a little easier.
“Incoming freshman should know [that the Bookstore] is here for them. Everything we do is to make sure that we are supporting them right from before they even get to campus,” Lusiana said. “Even though we are a retail store, our mission is to help them succeed in college. We are not just a retail store, we are here to support the student.”
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