NORTH NEWTON, KAN. A college bookstore that doesn't sell textbooks may seem like an enterprise with an identity crisis. However, the newly-remodeled Bethel College Bookstore has no such affliction. Though its shelves are stocked with keychains and sweatshirts instead of anthologies and lab books, the Bookstore continues to make a valuable contribution to the college community. Gregg Dick, controller and business affairs manager at the college, explained the change in products. He said because current technology has made textbooks available and often cheaper to purchase on-line, the process of stocking the store with textbooks was becoming both frustrating and unprofitable.
"We wanted to make the bookstore a profit-generating center," Dick said. "We sought to market the college more effectively while creating a user-friendly environment for students and college constituents."
In order to accomplish this goal, Bethel teamed up with Sunflower Office Products. The downtown Newton business, owned by Bethel alumni Kevin and Dooz Pankratz, manages and staffs the bookstore. In addition to offering greater financial flexibility, the partnership also means lower prices on many office supplies, according to Dick.
"We are trying to make it so a student doesn't have to jump in her car and run to Wal-Mart every time she needs a printer cartridge," Dick said.
In addition to cheaper office supplies, product changes were made to draw more community people into the store. The Bookstore now sells coffee along with college bookstore staples of t-shirts and backpacks.
Along with changes in products, the Bookstore underwent physical change. Regier Construction of Newton was called in to help with the store's transformation. Among other improvements, the builders opened up the front of the store by replacing a display case with windows, adding two exterior windows to increase visibility from the outside and creating an additional entrance on the west. A new sign outside will also mark the store.
On-site manager Mary Entz and student employee Mary Eagle staff the Bookstore.