Last month, the 86-year-old Colgate University Bookstore changed its name to Colgate Bookstore to reflect its greater community commitment. The store also moved off-campus, to downtown Hamilton, N.Y., as part of a two-year project in conjunction with the Hamilton Initiative, a for-profit company backed by Colgate alumni to redevelop the village of Hamilton. The 25,000-square-foot university bookstore, with 12,500 square feet of retail space, had its soft opening in mid-August and will officially open the weekend of September 20—21. Colgate Bookstore is the flagship business of the downtown area. and the largest downtown independent bookstore in central New York State. The new location has nearly triple the selling space of its 4,500-square-foot campus store.
According to general book manager Rob Stahl, by moving to a four-story space, Colgate Bookstore has greatly expanded its selection of general books, from 18,000 volumes to 25,000, and CDs, from 3,000 to 5,000. The new space has three CD listening stations and plans are underway to add used CDs soon. Because of the closing of a nearby Ames, Colgate Bookstore has also expanded its selection of school, art and computer supplies, as well as dorm furniture, lamps and clocks. In addition, the store has increased the number of insignia items it carries and has a large computer books section. The store's 1,000-square-foot special events area, which can hold 100 people, and its conference room on the third floor are both wired for high-speed Internet access via T-3 lines; wireless connections will be installed next year. In terms of sections, general fiction, mystery, romance, horror, education, childcare and children's have all been increased significantly.
"We're getting stunning reviews from the administration, parents and the community," said bookstore director Leslie Green Guilbault. "We have a lot of community support, something that didn't exist before. That was one of the things the university was trying to accomplish by moving us downtown. Our sales are through the roof, because of the community shoppers. When customers walk in, they see general books. You feel like you're walking into a trade bookstore. We have 70 windows, which flood the store with light." As part of its community outreach, Colgate Bookstore has increased its events schedule, with a heavy emphasis on children's programming.
To help Colgate students make the transition to the new store, the university is running a free shuttle-bus every 15 minutes from various spots on campus to locations throughout Hamilton. For those who want to drive, there are nine parking spaces behind the building, as well as free on-street parking. The university will continue to maintain a convenience store on campus, stocking health and beauty items and a limited selection of books.
Concurrent with the move, Guilbault has also been working with the university's Web master to upgrade ColgateBookstore.com. "We took professional photos of 500 of our merchandise items, which we will display. In the next year, we're putting our computer books and music inventory on the site. We're testing the last pieces now." The site, which will go live this month, will give users access to a two-million title database, from which they can order. Currently, students can order textbooks online, charge them to a credit card and pick up a semester's worth of books at the store.