Creating a focal point for the campus celebrations, the store became the ordering and distribution center for graduation regalia, providing a convenient location for students to pick up their caps and gowns. This was just the beginning of the store’s involvement in the week-long graduation ceremonies, as Foster explains. “Tom Brokaw was this year’s senior speaker, and we partnered with his publicist to obtain signed commemorative bookplates reflecting the Vanderbilt commencement theme.”
The store also partnered with the University to hold a mini grad fair which resulted in a record-breaking collection for the Senior Class Fund. Staff dressed in festive attire while a greeter in regalia directed visitors at the store’s entrance. Other staffers worked the graduation crowd to become personal assistants, helping with last minute emergencies – including the distribution of umbrellas on graduation day – and drop off points were established where students could drop off their regalia without needing to return to the store.
The work put into making the graduation a success is even more surprising considering that just days later, regalia was exchanged for grease-paint and gowns for baseball duds as the store hosted an event celebrating Atlanta Braves’ John Smoltz. The former MLB pitcher and active sportscaster visited the store to sign copies of his book, Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year.
Located just a few blocks from downtown, the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore has a street-frontage and receives tourist traffic, particularly country music followers and fans of the nearby football stadium, basketball arena and baseball field.