When Tabitha Rosser joined Barnes & Noble College, she brought with her an extensive retail background, having worked at leading retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Seven months into assuming the role of Store Manager at UC Riverside, we caught up with her for our ‘5 Minutes With…’ feature to ask her what she’s working on, what opportunities she sees for LoudCloud and OER, and why she thinks she can be bossy.
What was your first job?
My first real job was as an eighteen year-old freshman in college, when I joined Nordstrom. I’d always really loved clothes and the fashion world, and I like organizing — I can be bossy that way!
How do you describe your current role at Barnes & Noble College?
It’s a balance, particularly on a campus as big as this one — between the bricks and mortar of your store, being present to manage the smooth running of the operation, and being out on your campus developing relationships and building partnerships with the school and students.
What are you working on right now?
Being a myth-buster! There are a lot of conversations around affordability, and along with it, the idea that the campus bookstore is somehow an expensive option for course materials. Because we have so many great cost-saving options — from rental to used books to Courseware — I really want to spread awareness of how competitively priced the campus bookstore is.
In a few words or sentences, how would you describe your campus and its students?
I’ve been here less than a year, but it’s a really great atmosphere to work in. Because we’re a quarter school, everything moves really quickly, and our students are engaged, hardworking and optimistic, so it’s a really fun place to be.
Where do you think the biggest opportunity lies for Barnes & Noble College for the future?
I think it has to be the opportunities we have with LoudCloud and our OER capability. For example, my ten-year-old niece is learning everything on an iPad. While generationally, our faculty and staff may not be as comfortable with that shift in learning yet, I really see part of my job as bringing those two worlds together. As a learning company, Barnes & Noble College is addressing the issues of affordability and accessibility with learning technologies — something the next generation of students has grown up with.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I would be a party planner! I plan vacations — everything for our family and — as I mentioned, I’m bossy! One of the great opportunities on this campus is in planning more outreach for faculty and the administration, and I’m really looking forward to developing those kinds of events.
Favorite part of the store?
With my fashion background, I love our store’s trend section for everything from candles to Havaianas flip flops — and we also have a Glossary in our store (a beauty store-with-in-a-bookstore concept), so we’ve all become experts in cosmetics.
What’s a characteristic you find most prevalent in Barnes & Noble College people?
There’s a strong culture here that’s so supportive. Everybody succeeds together and that’s unusual, particularly in retail, where things tend to be very competitive and you don’t always get that important sharing of ideas.
Favorite book, or book you’re currently reading?
I’m embarrassed to say I love books by authors like Dean Koontz and Catherine Coulter — give me an FBI thriller or something light!
Most valuable thing you’ve learned at Barnes & Noble College?
I think it would be around the value of connectivity. To be a really successful store manager you have to get out and meet people and create meaningful relationships, with your campus and with your community.
Best day at Barnes & Noble College – so far?
It’s not so much a day, as an experience — The Annual Meeting. It’s fun and overwhelming, and such an opportunity to learn — and seems over in a moment!