The University of Minnesota has consolidated three bookstores—its East Bank, West Bank and Health Sciences stores—and opened a single 46,000-square-foot store, at 300 Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. The new store, which opened March 3, is three times larger than the university's largest existing bookstore and is part of a $71.5 million renovation of the student union. The store will stock 200,000 titles, employ up to 250 people and include a Starbucks with oriental rugs and soft lighting.

The store is managed by the university and ranks among the largest university bookstores in size and sales, surpassed only by giants like the University of Washington Bookstore, the bookstore at the University of Texas at Austin and the Brigham Young Bookstore.

Bob Crabb, director of bookstores at the University of Minnesota, said that the university hopes to draw customers from the surrounding communities and in particular professionals from the technical and medical fields. To that end, the store has an expanded health sciences section, which offers medical texts, manuals and supplies, as well as science reference and engineering sections. This focus, Crabb said, will allow the store to "take advantage of some of the markets others could not go after," referring to the dozen or so chain superstores that dot the Twin Cities.

Crabb told PW he is especially proud of the new store's 46 cash wraps, more than enough for peak activity at the beginning and end of semesters; they're mobile and can be broken down and turned into display tables when not needed.

"Previously, with our limited space and multiple locations, we had to duplicate titles and couldn't really stand for anything," he said. "Now we can have trade books and keep our academic bent."