Coffman Union bookstore set to open in six weeks

Josh Linehan

Though Coffman Union officially opens Tuesday, one of its major draws for students won’t be ready for another six weeks.

The University’s new bookstore, which will consolidate the East and West bank stores as well as the Health Sciences store into one 45,000 square-foot facility, officially opens for business March 3.

The store will offer students one-stop book shopping. The St. Paul bookstore will remain open and both stores will carry books for St. Paul campus classes.

Bob Crabb, book store director, said the new facility will prove a great benefit to students.

“A majority of students take classes on more than one campus,” Crabb said. “Having one store to get all the books, that’s the main driving force behind this.”

Despite the bookstore’s prominence in the new union, it wasn’t originally planned as part of the design.

Plans for a centralized bookstore were added when Ryan Construction – the final contractor on the project – and officials from the Twin Cities Student Union Board of Governors appeared before the University’s Board of Regents to request more money in November 2001.

Nevertheless, the new bookstore is a big selling point for University officials when speaking about the $72 million union, opening a year late and approximately $22 million over budget.

Crabb said the larger space will allow the store to stock more trade books and accessories such as clothing, computer equipment and various school supplies.

The increase in floor space will also introduce a new approach to staffing the store during “rush” weeks – the first two weeks of any semester and finals weeks. The change could translate into shorter lines for students.

“We have a big swing area, and that will allow us some flexibility,” Crabb said. “We’ll have movable cash registers on the floor so we can better handle those busy periods.”

Crabb said he hopes the centralized space will also help the University compete in the burgeoning online book-sales market. Before, if a student ordered books online from more than one University store, the books had to be shipped from store to store before being packed and shipped to the student. This process added days to the delivery time.

Crabb said the bookstore has hired independent movers to assist employees with the move, but his staff will remain responsible for the reshelving process.

The Williamson Hall Bookstore – the largest store being closed – will shut its doors Feb. 27. The Health Sciences Bookstore will close Jan. 30.

Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [email protected]