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May 5, 2003

Bookstore’s on top of fashions, best sellers

Some CSUS students and visitors may see the Hornet Bookstore as a place to stop between classes and grab a quick Snickers bar or, reluctantly, drop a few hundred dollars on textbooks at the start of each semester. But those who take a closer look will find that the Bookstore offers much more – a place to buy the latest fashions or the hot new best seller.

One look around the Bookstore and it’s easy to see it doesn’t only offer the standard sweatshirts and other college memorabilia. There is also a taste of many of the same styles that college students and their peers can find at their favorite trendy store or catalog.

“Hooded sweatshirts are always a hot seller,” says Susan Gallo, merchandising manager. “But now we’re starting to offer apparel such as spaghetti-strap tanks and Capri pants in a more fitted style for women.” Gallo says that manufacturers have started to take notice that women are more interested in wearing college apparel that is styled like something they would buy in a regular clothing store.

This forces Gallo to stay on top of trends that translate into sales in the Bookstore’s apparel area. So in addition to ordering hooded sweatshirts just as temperatures rise in the summer, Gallo must stay ahead of the fashion curve and think about how many tank tops to order as most people are donning turtlenecks and parkas in January.

Of course, what sets these garments apart, is the “CSUS” emblazoned in huge letters on the chest – and in some cases rear – of the garment. “That’s the trend these days,” says Gallo, referring to the occasional posterior positioning of the CSUS name. “We’ll see what the trend is next year.”

And while bookstore visitors can always find a comfy CSUS sweatshirt or Herky the Hornet t-shirt, if they venture further on the first floor to the area under the stairs, they are likely to find much more.

Although some students associate that area purely with textbooks, many are pleasantly surprised to find that they can also pick up the latest best sellers, discounted 20 percent.

“Students are usually standing in lines to buy their books and that’s when they realize we offer a large selection of ‘other’ books,” says Judy Boliver, general book buyer. ”We are a college bookstore, meaning we can’t always compete with some of the larger retailers on price, but we do come close and definitely make up for it in our level of customer service.”

Boliver explains that in addition to best sellers, the Hornet Bookstore carries books by smaller publishers that may not find their way into a larger retailer. Local buying gives the Hornet Bookstore the freedom to offer books by local and faculty authors, as well as titles that colleagues and customers suggest. And Bookstore staff is happy to order.

The Bookstore has further committed to providing customers with a range of choices by joining Booksense, a national marketing campaign that works to promote the goals of independent bookstores. Booksense publishes a list of best sellers, much like The New York Times best seller list, but according to Boliver, the list reflects more diverse, nationwide interests, as opposed to the Times list, which she says tends to have an East Coast slant.

The commitment to their customers is further evidenced by their support of literary causes such as a “Banned Book Sale,” held each year in September. “Believe it or not, books are still banned,” says Boliver. “We want to let people know it still happens.” Boliver says some of the banned titles aren’t just obscure books by unknown authors, but classical literature that should be available to everyone.

In addition to an area devoted to works by CSUS faculty, the Bookstore also participates in many on-campus events that feature authors, and handles the ordering and selling of the author’s book at the event. This allows departments and other organizations on campus to focus on the author as a speaker, and lets the Bookstore do what it does best: sell books. Currently, the Bookstore is featuring a catalog of selected works now on display by famed local artist Wayne Thiebaud. The exhibit of Thiebaud’s paintings is on display in the University Library Gallery through July 25.

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