Hundreds of students crowded outside the doors of the Barnes & Noble at Texas Tech Bookstore, eagerly waiting to join the excitement waiting for them inside – Barnes & Noble Night. Texas Tech’s first ever Barnes & Noble Night was coordinated and hosted as a way to introduce freshmen to the many resources offered by the bookstore as well as the university and surrounding community.
The event was held in conjunction with Red Raider Welcome Week, a week-long series of free, fun events designed to welcome new and returning students to Texas Tech. Assistant General Manager Monica Cowie explained that the bookstore decided to join Red Raider Welcome Week as a way to connect with incoming freshmen at the very beginning of their academic careers.
“If we can build a good rapport with them, we hope to keep that connection with the student for the next four years,” Cowie explained. “Once their parents drop them off on dorm move-in day, we try to build a relationship with them so they know that they’re not alone – we’re here to help – and they will continue to come back to the bookstore.”
By getting the word out early and using social media tools like Facebook, Barnes & Noble Night was a huge success. Nearly 3,400 students participated in the event for opportunities to win a free NOOK, gift cards, make a video on why they love the bookstore, sample food and beverages, play games and win prizes.
“People started forming a line outside of the store at about 9:10 p.m. – about 20 minutes before we opened,” Cowie said. “When we raised our gate, people were crawling underneath the gate to get in. They couldn’t wait!”
The bookstore networked and collaborated with local businesses and vendors as well as on-campus groups and departments. Texas Tech senior Melissa Jolman said that offering freshmen a diverse range of vendors and support at Barnes & Noble Night was beneficial – usually freshmen are unaware of the resources available to them.
“Having an event like this, dedicated specifically to freshman, but open to anyone who wanted to come, not only gives them a sense of community, but it also lets them know what’s available to them,” Jolman said. “It helps freshman get a better perspective of what’s out there, whether it’s on campus or off.”
During the event, a station was set up where students could record short videos of themselves saying why they liked the bookstore. The videos were then uploaded to the Texas Tech Barnes & Noble Bookstore Facebook page. Enthusiastic students professed their appreciation, on camera, for the bookstore’s convenience, pricing, location and atmosphere.
“The videos are super cute,” Cowie said. “It was really neat to be able to see the dedication from the freshmen in those videos – and what’s really cool is that we made some great connections with our freshmen students that evening.”
Cowie said that after the success of Barnes & Noble Night, the bookstore will continue to put on similar events and is already in the process of planning the next Barnes & Noble Night for Red Raider Welcome Week in the spring.
“This was such an overwhelming success with our freshmen that we will continue to plan more events like this in the future,” Cowie said. “It’s an awesome way for the students to start off the school year and learn that we are more than just a bookstore. We’re a great resource – and we’re right here on campus.”
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