It is official: the College Store will be closed as early as June 1 and replaced with Barnes and Noble College. BNC, which operates hundreds of campus bookstores nationwide, is tasked with renovating the HWS store and updating its website, as well as managing merchandising and day-to-day affairs.
Interim President McGuire maintains that the Colleges’ partnership with Barnes and Noble College will “elevate the College Store while generating cost savings for students and building revenue for the Colleges.” He also assured the campus community that the eight employees of the College Store affected by the transition would be worked with “one-on-one to ensure they have the opportunity to continue successful careers either through employment with BNC, at HWS in a different department, or elsewhere.”
Cathy Williams, the vice president for Marketing and Communications, clarified that those affected by the transition “are receiving preferential interviewing with Barnes and Noble College. … Human Resources is also meeting one-on-one with each College Store employee to identify a plan of action that makes sense for their individual lives and career goals, including looking at other opportunities at HWS as well as elsewhere.” Additionally, Williams bolstered the case that this change would make the store more affordable, arguing that “Barnes and Noble College has hundreds of stores across the country and can obtain a greater variety of products for less money, passing those savings along to customers. They are also a leader in affordable used, digital and rental course materials, and they offer price matching, even for Amazon.” It remains difficult to objectively assess these claims because the Office of Communications has imposed a moratorium on other college employees commenting on the story, including those presently working at the College Store.
Some students have voiced concerns that the same mass production that may reduce costs would result in a lesser variety of HWS merchandise and apparel at the BNC. When asked about this concern, Williams replied that “Barnes and Noble College specializes in sourcing products that appeal to college communities, and they are working with our HWS Office of Communications to ensure that all branded merchandise adheres to our standards. The new store will offer a variety of products at different price points so that we can best meet the needs of all members of the community.”
In the remaining months that it is in operation, students should keep an eye on the large discounts offered by the College Store for its remaining inventory. It may also be prudent to spend any loyalty points they have accumulated over the years, as these credits will be discontinued once BNC takes management of the College Store.