The new The University of Toledo Bookstore is impressive, but what it represents to its host community is even more impressive.
Based on a twenty-year relationship with The University of Toledo (UT), the new venture is the first Barnes & Noble branded initiative for the campus. Occupying over 18,000 square feet, the store provides a first-floor general reading and children’s area, Barnes & Noble Café featuring Starbucks, a UT logo and apparel section, and a second floor that is devoted to textbooks, school supplies and dorm merchandise.
“The whole store is custom-designed to show our ties with the university,” explains bookstore manager Colleen Strayer. “Everything from the shield logo on the columns to the student murals we have throughout ─ you know you’re in The University of Toledo Bookstore.”
That theme is one Strayer and her team is eager to develop. On the store’s July 11 opening day, Dr. Tom Barden, dean of the UT Honors College, signed copies of his book, Steinbeck in Vietnam, and Rocky, one of UT’s mascots, was also in attendance to sign his book, Here’s Rocky. Coupons were also handed out to the first 100 customers for specials in the bookstore, while visitors were invited to register to win prizes, including a NOOK Simple Touch™, Starbucks gift cards, and UT clothing and merchandise.
“Our opening day was outstanding,” Strayer recalls. “We had a huge turnout from both the community and the university, and we received some really positive feedback about the store.” That feedback is especially important because of the store’s role in a key initiative for the university.
The official opening marked the beginning of The University of Toledo Foundation’s Dorr Street Gateway Project, an initiative Matt Schroeder, Vice President for Real Estate and Business Development for The University of Toledo Foundation, describes as the creation of a “student-centered environment.” The complex will also include a Gradkowski’s Sports Grille, Great Clips, Starbucks and Jimmy Johns.
The Gateway project has been designed to create a more student-friendly campus, which will also include dorm units to house 112 students in modern, fully furnished apartments. The aim was to create a “Campus town” for students to work, rest and play, with mixed use shops and facilities shared by students and community alike.
The Barnes & Noble campus bookstore is seen as an integral part of the university’s Gateway project and Strayer points to a number of future events such as student musical performances, book signings and children’s readings held in the store to bring the outside community onto the UT campus.
“It’s called the Gateway as it’s the front door of the community – and we like to think we’re the front door,” says Strayer proudly.
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