When a school’s alumni include former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal Executive Producer Betsy Beers and current Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, you know there is something special happening on campus. Continuing along track of its high performance, Milton Academy is positioning its students — and the leaders of tomorrow — for high achievement with a renovated and enhanced bookstore.
When students at this independent college-prep school hit the quad this fall, they’ll find their bookstore under Barnes & Noble College management, complete with an improved layout, new merchandise and additional food offerings.
The new partnership became official at the beginning of June — just days before a big reunion weekend that brought more than 600 alumni back to campus, which is located eight miles south of Boston. “We had to prep the store and get ready for the weekend in record time,” said Barnes & Noble College Regional Manager Glen Hoyle. “From all of the feedback we have received, it was a tremendous success. Everyone was pretty impressed with how quickly we were able to re-merchandise and re-design the store.”
According to Hoyle, long expanses of bookshelves previously dominated the long and narrow space, creating a maze that forced customers to the back of the store before roaming other aisles. By breaking up the fixtures, “we created a sense of openness and eliminated a lot of clutter, which makes for a much better shopping experience,” he said.
The new apparel and merchandise has also earned plenty of kudos from shoppers. According to Hoyle, one alumna, who had graduated a decade earlier, was roaming the aisles with her young daughter. She turned around and exclaimed, “This looks just like a college bookstore!” Academy students who were assisting over alumni weekend were also excited about the changes they saw. “They were thrilled with the initial changes we made and they’ll no doubt be even more thrilled with this summer’s renovation,” predicted Hoyle.
Included in the transformation will be an expanded convenience area that will include ice cream, healthy snack options and a line of breakfast foods. “These are things we know the kids are interested in based on our experience at the Phillips Exeter bookstore,” Hoyle explained, referring to the college preparatory school bookstore Barnes & Noble College also operates. “Half of the high school’s 750 students live on campus, while the other half commutes. Both groups will be looking for something to eat between classes — and this will be the perfect place to find it,” he added.
Returning students will also find enhanced graphics throughout the store, from the Milton Academy logo to images of its students at events from sporting games to music performances.
“Store Manager Kevin Mullins really wants to make sure that all constituents on campus — from students and faculty to staff and parents — find what they’re looking for,” said Jackie Bonenfant, Academic Dean of the Upper School at Milton Academy, adding. “They will not only find books, but food and gifts and other merchandise, as well.”
What they won’t find: shot glasses, high-energy drinks like Red Bull or provocative greeting cards. “We are very aware of the fact that our student customers are 18 years old and under, which means our offerings must be age appropriate — from greeting cards to health and beauty aids,” Hoyle stated.
Before students return for the fall term, the Milton Academy bookstore has rolled out a new online opportunity with a bookstore website. “In the past, students bought books when they arrived in the fall. Now, they can order them online and either have them delivered to their home or pick them up on campus,” Bonenfant said. “We hope families find that more convenient, and that it relieves some of the bookstore crunch.”
This year, an improved bookstore experience will help signify a new school term with additional opportunities for students. As another Milton alumnus, T.S. Eliot (Class of 1906) noted, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”