The newest member of the ICBA staff, our Marketing and Communications Director Marcy Farrey, recently visited a couple of our Members in Minnesota. She shares her observations from her visit to the University of Minnesota below. Be sure to check out the video from her visit on our Facebook page!
As a newer member of the ICBA team, I think there’s no better way for me to learn the industry than to see what’s happening in our stores in real life. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve loved independent bookstores for as long as I can remember, and I am eager to take any opportunities to see what independent college bookstores are up to!
1. Incorporation of Big Brands
This is something I would have loved as a college student. In the store, I spotted U of M logos on Vera Bradley and Dooney and Burke items. School spirt meets style—plus some sparkle! Teaming up with brands your customers already know and admire will grab their attention. It’s an item they might already covet without the school logo, and now it feels customized to them because it features an institution they are proud to be a part of and support.
2. Event Space for Featuring Local Authors
As I mentioned, I’ve always loved independent bookstores, and this is one area in which the U of M Bookstore reminded me of them. It helps that this store’s trade book section is rather large, but they take it a step further by featuring local authors and hosting events in a specific designated event space that can be repurposed for all types of events. Creating a place to host events and bring people together creates a sense of community—and community is one of the reasons many independent bookstores across the nation are growing, according to a recent study.
3. Holiday & Winter Fun
U of M was all decked out for the holidays, and it had me feeling the Holiday spirit! U of M students can easily get ready for the holiday season at the bookstore. I spotted a few holiday sweaters, ornaments, and even some socks. The winter gear was also conveniently dispersed throughout the store. For those days when students forget any of their winter gear in their dorm rooms or an unexpected snowstorm hits, they can stop in and get what they need.
4. State & City Pride
The U of M bookstore featured a wide selection of state and city pride items that would make for great dorm room accessories or gifts. There were coasters, pillows, magnets, and much more that featured the state of Minnesota or the city of Minneapolis. They’re useful items that also make great collectibles.
Seeing the store reminded me of just how great an impact a college store can have on the community it serves. The college store can help get you into the school and holiday spirit, prepare you for success in your classes and career, and connect you to the community through events and other learning opportunities. Independent stores have an even greater impact because they can create an experience that is truly unique to one school, one student body, and one community.
Thanks to the University of Minnesota for being a great host! Stay tuned for details of my visit to another Minnesota ICBA Member, Normandale Community College in Bloomington.