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UNCP’s Bookstore opens to rave reviews

July 2, 2007

The University’s new Bookstore opened in late 2006 with little fanfare. It didn’t need any.

A modern university Bookstore is more than textbooks, and this one has it all and more.

Four years in the planning, the 18,000-square-foot facility has enough cash registers to handle peak traffic. It features a convenience store with beverages, food, beauty and health aids and its own entrance. Other departments include textbooks, trade books, gifts, school supplies, technology and UNCP-branded gear.

Besides being bigger – about two-and-a-half times the size of the old store – it is attractive and conveniently located across from the James B. Chavis University Center on the student mall.

Bookstore Manager Karen Swiney paused before delivering a verdict on the new operation.

“Out of 10, I give it a 9 or a 10,” Swiney said. “The ‘best in the Carolinas’ is what I keep hearing from vendors who see all the bookstores.”

The new store was thoroughly planned with assistance from a designer who specializes in university bookstores. Even some unplanned events worked to the store’s advantage.

“The wood-grained vinyl flooring was a late upgrade,” Swiney said. “By upgrading, it improved the entire atmosphere.”

Adding to the “atmosphere” are two fireplaces, reading chairs, plants, historic photos and memorabilia and a patio with tables, chairs and umbrellas.

The ultimate test of any student bookstore is the early semester rush as students buy textbooks. Eleven registers at the new store replaced three permanent registers in the cramped quarters of the old store. Non-textbook are purchased in the convenience store, which has its own register.

 “It worked,” Swiney said. “The longest wait at the cashier was not more than 15 minutes.”

Textbooks ordered in advance and are picked up at the Bookstore in an area with a separate entrance and counter space.  The new space also accommodates book buy-backs without bringing additional foot traffic into the Bookstore.  

Another key test for a new facility concerns its future.

“We built in enrollment growth,” Swiney said. “We used an enrollment figure of 8,000 when we planned it.”

The additional sales space will boost financial performance for a store that annually handles more than 1,000 textbook titles for more than 1,500 courses. For the 2006-07 fiscal year, revenue growth of more than 15 percent is expected.

The price tag for the building was $4.1 million and includes the new Police Headquarters and part of the new campus post office.

Convenience, efficiency and profitability don’t have to mean cutting corners. This store has a heart.

“Efficiency, comfort and attractiveness are values that we wanted to build in,” Swiney said. “I believe we accomplished it.”