Now in its second year, the Trend Table is fast becoming a popular feature in many Barnes & Noble College stores. Offering a variety of unique merchandise, the idea behind the Trend Table is to introduce students to the kinds of products they might not usually associate with their neighborhood campus bookstore.
“We want to create really great reasons for our students to visit their store more often,” says Lisa Mazzio, Director of Merchandise for Barnes & Noble College. “For many colleges, there aren’t always a lot of retail options available around the campus, and the Trend Table gives us a showcase to introduce new ideas, or bring in products that our students are actively looking for – all at affordable price points.”
The latest Trend Table collection features a “Give Back” theme and originated with research into the buying habits of the Barnes & Noble College demographic. Noting a strong reaction by students to cause-related products, Mazzio initiated a search to locate vendors who could offer strong socially-conscious narratives along with an eclectic mix of merchandise. Her search led to the seven or eight participating vendors who comprise the “Give Back” collection.
“We wanted to offer a collection of mostly handmade artifacts from all around the world, provided from vendors who provide economic or sustainable benefits to the communities they represent,” Mazzio explains.
Examples include jewelry from The Leaky Collection, which is dedicated to creating empowerment and employment for rural Kenyans, to Bob Marley headphones, which help to support 1love.org, a charity dedicated to youth and sustainable and responsible living. Students can also choose richly decorated scarves from SEAsTra, another participating vendor working to a Fair Trade business model, and bracelets from Thanda Zulu, whose products sustain South African beaders and fund the work of Thanda, a non-profit organization supporting Orphans Against AIDS.
“There’s a very personal connection and an attachment with these products,” points out Barnes & Noble College Buyer Dorm & Trend, Jeanne Parcella. “These are beautifully made artifacts, not made on a production line, and there is story behind each item.”