Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt Plays Important Role in Graduation Celebration and More

July 30, 2012
It might be an understatement to say that Melissa Foster and her team at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore are always busy. Since the store’s opening last November, the veteran Barnes & Noble manager and her team have lost no time in establishing deep ties with the university, and all that hard work came to fruition in a spectacular way when the store became an integral part of Vanderbilt University’s prestigious graduation ceremonies.

Above and Beyond

Creating a focal point for the campus celebrations, the store became the ordering and distribution center for graduation regalia, providing a convenient location for students to pick up their caps and gowns. This was just the beginning of the store’s involvement in the week-long graduation ceremonies, as Foster explains. “Tom Brokaw was this year’s senior speaker, and we partnered with his publicist to obtain signed commemorative bookplates reflecting the Vanderbilt commencement theme.”

The store also partnered with the University to hold a mini grad fair which resulted in a record-breaking collection for the Senior Class Fund. Staff dressed in festive attire while a greeter in regalia directed visitors at the store’s entrance. Other staffers worked the graduation crowd to become personal assistants, helping with last minute emergencies – including the distribution of umbrellas on graduation day –  and drop off points were established where students could drop off their regalia without needing to return to the store.

Changing Roles on a Dime

The work put into making the graduation a success is even more surprising considering that just days later, regalia was exchanged for grease-paint and gowns for baseball duds as the store hosted an event celebrating Atlanta Braves’ John Smoltz. The former MLB pitcher and active sportscaster visited the store to sign copies of his book, Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year.

Vanderbilt University graduation display table at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore.

Located just a few blocks from downtown, the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt bookstore has a street-frontage and receives tourist traffic, particularly country music followers and fans of the nearby football stadium, basketball arena and baseball field.

“It certainly keeps us on our toes,” Foster says. “We average 300 book signings a year, so there really isn’t a time when we’re not planning for some new event or occasion.” Occupying a newly renovated space, the store also includes a café, technology center and has acquired an additional retail space to house the store’s textbook department.
With fall semester just around the corner, there is hardly any time for the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt staff to catch their breath. “There’s always something going on,” Foster explains. “We’re always looking to the next thing – whatever it might be, and it’s always an adventure.”
Read every week for more news and updates.