Coffman bookstore deals with back-to-school rush

Molly Moker

The University bookstore in Coffman Union is bustling with back-to-school business – and handling it well, store employees and patrons said.

Approximately 50,000 students pass through the University’s bookstores during the first week of school every year, University Bookstores director Bob Crabb said.

Dozens of cash registers, expanded Labor Day hours, and the ability to purchase books online have helped move students through the bookstore quickly this year, he said.

“The first or second day of class is typically very busy in the stores – it’s just elbow-to-elbow people for about four to five hours,” he said. “We thought that being open on Labor Day might help spread out some of that business.”

Tuesday evening, customers at the Coffman Union bookstore ñ- which opened in spring 2003 – said their wait time was minimal, and shorter than in years past.

“It was pretty quick and the lines were not that long,” second-year graduate student Kari Slade said. “And everything I needed was in stock.”

Slade said her entire trip took about 10 minutes, compared to 20 minutes in the past.

Crabb attributed the shorter wait for students to the nearly 70 cash registers available in the store.

Bookstore employees said things are hectic at the store, and people are constantly coming in and out.

“It always seems like rush hour here,” said sophomore Michael Diener, who started working at the bookstore three days ago.

The average wait time for customers is five minutes to 10 minutes, he said.

Instead of facing first-week crowds, Diener said, last year he ordered his books online from the bookstore.

Now, as an employee, he said electronic book-shopping cuts down on people, but not work.

“We still have to process all the orders here,” he said.

Bookstore manager Ashlee Jurski said the bookstore has had such a large number of lanes open for the first week of the semester since the new store opened in spring 2003.

Yet, she said sometimes it still takes 15 minutes to get through, which is much faster than the 30 minutes to 45 minutes she saw at the old bookstore.

“People are getting out of here faster, and I’m sure they appreciate that,” she said.

Crabb said customers were frustrated in the past when they had to travel between bookstores to get all of their textbooks.

“None of (the former bookstores) were big enough to carry all the textbooks so students had to go from the West Bank store, to the East Bank store, then sometimes to the St. Paul store,” he said.

“I think they appreciate going to one place. We finally have the kind of store that a university this large really ought to have.”

-Emily Johns contributed to this story