Home (Again) at Texas A&M

June 11, 2012

The new Memorial Student Center (MSC) at Texas A&M.

It’s no secret that Holley Scott enjoys a challenge, because for the past three years, the Barnes & Noble bookstore manager at Texas A&M College Station has been operating her store from an unusual location. Since 1990, the bookstore had been an integral part of the Memorial Student Center (MSC), a complex built in 1951 and dedicated to Aggies who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our country. But three years ago, in advance of an extensive MSC refurbishment, the store found itself heading across the street to the G. Rollie White Coliseum Gymnasium and shedding a few pounds. 

The "Living Room" at the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M.

From Gymnasium to Living Room

“Although our floor space was cut in half, and we couldn’t make structural changes, it was by far the best location for us,” recalls Scott. “And because of the relationship we have here with the university, we knew we’d figure a way to make it work.” Despite the logistical challenges of operating out of a gym, the store not only survived, but flourished in its temporary home. “It was actually exciting to see the transformation,” Scott says. “Our customers went from being initially surprised, to becoming used to visiting us in the gym.”

MSC REturns Better than ever

Earlier this year, the bookstore returned to the “Living Room,” as the Aggies fondly call the Memorial Student Center, following an $85 million refurbishment. The new multi-level store now features a new 90-seat Barnes & Noble Café serving Starbucks coffee, sandwiches and snacks, and more room for merchandising and gatherings. But the bookstore’s relationship with the university is about more than just bricks and mortar, as Chad Wootton, Texas A&M’s Associate Vice President for External Affairs points out. “We think the new MSC facility is second to none, but the bookstore also supports our 50,000 students from campuses as far as Galveston and Doha in Qatar,” he remarks. Wootton also notes that working with the university, the Barnes & Noble team has in recent years introduced new opportunities such as textbook rental and digital reading formats.

At The Heart of Texas A&M

The new Barnes & Noble Cafe at Texas A&M.

“We’re part of the campus,” Scott admits. “We keep our ears and eyes open and if there’s an opportunity where we can help, we want to be a part of it.” Being part of it will mean that Scott and her team will have the store ready in time for the start of fall semester and MSC’s upcoming week-long celebratory grand opening.

As Chad Wootton maintains, “Partnerships like the one we enjoy with Barnes & Noble are an asset. They help us accomplish our goals – not just as a university but also as a community.”

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