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Greenfield Community College

GCC pleased with outsourced bookstore

Recorder/Paul Franz
Susan Brown, left, helps Jordan Stempel of Leyden pick up some text books at The College Store at GCC which has been privatized.

Recorder/Paul Franz Susan Brown, left, helps Jordan Stempel of Leyden pick up some text books at The College Store at GCC which has been privatized.

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College officials have been pleased with their bookstore’s first 16 months under private management and are looking forward to seeing small changes to the space this semester.

Follett Corp., an Illinois-based company that runs nearly 1,000 college bookstores across the country, will undergo a $30,000 renovation during the college’s spring recess, the week of March 16.

GCC comptroller Karen Phillips said that the renovation will feature a redesign of the store’s interior — changes like a new service counter and new foot traffic pattern that will help create smoother sales during rush periods.

As part of the terms of Follett’s contract with the college, the company is paying 100 percent of the cost, said Phillips. The investments will stay with GCC, even if some day the college did not renew its contract with Follett, she said.

The company will pay GCC between $80,000 and $100,000 each year. College officials made the decision in fall 2012 to outsource the store, after watching profits grow smaller each year — in part due to Internet-driven competition for textbook sales.

“I’d do it again,” said Phillips, who said it’s been a good arrangement for the college.

“I don’t know if we would have been able to keep up with the textbook industry and everything the way that ... Follett can. They know the business,” she said. “We need to focus on teaching students.”

The bookstore’s revenue, which had been historically around $1 million, was just over $707,000 last year, said Phillips. Follett pays GCC 10 percent of total revenue, up to $1 million, but has to pay the school at least $80,000 every year.

She said that the transition to Follett’s new software system was challenging but that she has been happy with the company’s service during its time here so far.

Follett sold or rented 1,600 books during 2013, said Phillips, although a majority of those were rentals, which doesn’t bring in as much money.

The rental program, which is a more affordable option for students, has been growing since Follett took over in October 2012, she said.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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