SC State Bookstore benefits from "extreme" makeover

Thursday, February 1, 2007

By Jason Darby, '99

Students returning to SC State University for the spring semester are being greeted by a new, streamlined book-buying and retail experience.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to herald the grand re-opening of the expanded and updated SC State University Bookstore will be held on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 1:30 p.m. in the Crawford-Zimmerman Complex.

New BookstoreFor the past dozen years or so, SC State students began their book-buying experience with the same simple, time-consuming ritual.

Students would walk into the lobby of the Crawford-Zimmerman Complex, pick up a form from a large two-sided bulletin board, search a list on the board for course numbers and book titles among a throng of other students and, finally, stand in line to purchase books from a window.

“The lines were fairly long,” said Janelle Wilson, ‘98, a teacher at Gibbes Middle School in Columbia, S.C. “Occasionally, I would have to get someone to take my place in line so that I wouldn’t miss my first class sessions.”

Prior to the bulletin board, the experience was similar – but the wait was even longer.

“We waited in line to turn in a list of classes,” said Lillian Adderson, ‘81, assistant vice president of alumni and community relations. “Later, you would have to return to the same line to claim and purchase your textbooks.”

For three weeks in late December 2006, the SC State Bookstore closed its doors while walls were removed or shifted, the retail space was expanded and the pick-up windows for textbooks were eliminated. Where there were once two separate stores – retail and textbook, there now stands a single, large bookstore.

In fact, once the dust had settled, the bookstore increased in size from 4,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet.

The layout of the new bookstore is a dramatic departure from the old store. The previous bookstore, actually two separate stores, included pick-up windows for textbooks that were located outside of a small retail store.

“We’ve always had a large variety of merchandise,” said Hutcherson. “Now, we have room to display it all.”

In addition, all of the sales racks, shelves and merchandising displays are wheeled. The mobility allows for stock and displays to be repositioned for different seasons and to accommodate heavier traffic at the beginning and end of each semester.

The new textbook area of the store is situated at the rear of the general retail operation.

The textbooks are arranged by discipline, and students can circle the room to collect their books for purchase before making their way to the registers in the retail area to complete all of their purchases. More importantly, students can use the internet to reserve their books for later pickup.

Two air conditioning units provide separate climate controls for the retail and textbook areas. Separate climates are needed to maintain the merchandise in the two areas, said Hutcherson.

Patrons like Roderick Russell, a junior marketing major, are impressed by the new set-up.

“The new look is definitely appealing,” Russell said. “It’s a bit more ‘roomy,’ and the textbook area is definitely an improvement – especially being able to pick up your own books.”

“The convenience factor is great,” added Russell, who also likes the fact there were more cashiers available when he was ready to purchase his textbooks.

According to Hutcherson, registers can be moved during slower periods to add additional retail space. “Four of the six registers are removable,” he said.

SC State alumni and supporters who can’t make it to the campus to peruse the new bookstore have the convenience of being able to make online purchases from the store at

Online inventory includes textbooks, SC State-branded apparel and gifts, computer products and dorm and school supplies. Shoppers can even purchase bookstore gift cards; however, gift cards are only redeemable for purchases made in the bricks-and-mortar location.

The SC State Bookstore is operated by Follett Higher Education Group.

Follett Higher Education Group of Oak Brook, IL, is the leading provider of bookstore services and the foremost supplier of used books in North America. Follett services four million students and over 375,000 faculty through more than 756 stores. Follett also services more than 1,600 independent campus stores with its wholesale services, and has the most visited e-commerce collegiate Web site,, that provides services and products through a network of more than 900 campus stores.