While scientists have dispelled the existence of Bigfoot and consider it a combination of folklore and hoax, the multitude of sightings in the state of Washington — more than any other state in the country — have done little to quell the fondness for this legendary bi-ped, particularly on the campuses of the Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS).
Sasquatch, fondly known as Skitch to CCS students, is the Colleges’ mascot, promoting spirit for both the school and its athletic programs. When Barnes & Noble College recently took over management of the its two college bookstores — which include Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College — Skitch merchandise played front and center in school apparel and gear. “Our mascot definitely makes us unique,” said Store Manager Shami Ruggles. But perhaps what truly makes CCS unique is the breadth of programs it offers its students.
The bookstores, called The Stomping Grounds in a nod to its mammoth mascot, recently transitioned to Barnes & Noble College management. “We called in an experienced team from stores in my region and turned it all over in one week,” explained Barnes & Noble College Regional Manager Lori Schmit. “Transitioning and opening bookstores is something we’re very experienced in. We have a great process, but more importantly, we have great people.”
That experienced and committed team made all the difference, delivering a seamless transition with minimal interruptions for students. “It was amazing for me to see how much Barnes & Noble College supports its store managers, ensuring that they have everything they need when they take on a huge effort like this,” explained Ruggles. “Employees came from all over the region to work with the current bookstore staff and stayed through the transition. They were phenomenal.”
During the transition, the team brought in new merchandise and reorganized existing products, giving both stores a fresh, new look for students returning to school. Convenience was expanded with a larger variety of healthy snacks and grab-and-go food items. While the bookstores previously offered counter service, the new, open-floor design now allows students to browse the aisles and select their own textbooks — and designate either campus, or both, for pick up of their course materials. Previously, students could only choose one store location for pick up.
CCS students will also benefit from the colleges’ first online bookstore website – delivering an innovative customized shopping experience and offering students, faculty and alumni the choice and convenience to shop both in-store or online.
“When we locally managed our campus stores, we were limited in the scope and amount of titles we could offer as rental and digital textbooks, which is where students see real savings,” said Lisa Hjaltalin, Chief Financial Officer at Community Colleges of Spokane. “Our partnership with Barnes & Noble now allows us to offer these cost-saving options to our students. Being able to offer them more economical choices to fulfill their textbook needs has greatly helped our students by allowing them to use their scarce resources on other important items necessary for their academic success.”
On both campuses, that academic success comes in a wide range of career paths, from mechanics and automotive fields, to cosmetology, culinary arts, visual arts, nursing, surgical technology, medical transcription and more. “The relationship between the trade programs and the bookstores is expanding and continues to grow,” Ruggles said. “We’re here to provide for the students and support the faculty — they tell us what they want and we make it happen.”
Along with textbooks, the bookstores also serve as a primary source for a variety of required learning materials that includes cookbooks, knives, sharpening stones, and thermometers for culinary students; uniforms for mechanics majors; and colored pencils, canvasses, paints and brushes for arts students.
To better deliver that support, the bookstores will also undergo extensive renovations in the coming year. “We believe this change will serve our students by making college learning materials more affordable and more accessible,” said Colleges of Spokane Chancellor Christine Johnson. “We are pleased to enter into this partnership and are eager to have our students, faculty and staff benefit by the expanded and modern services.”