For Follett Corp., managers of the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore since 1997, the summer months are a time of preparation for a very busy back-to-school season.
Between 300 and 400 boxes of clothing and gifts are arriving every day in preparation for the thousands of campus visitors who arrive every fall. Checkout stations within the store increase from eight to 67 on football weekends at the main store.
Shoppers will see lots of new and updated merchandise in the bookstore this fall.
Professional apparel for women
A series of focus groups conducted by Mike Low, director of licensing, resulted in an expanded selection of professional apparel for women. “Office-appropriate apparel for ladies is now a category we are prioritizing,” he says.
Companies now offering office-appropriate product at the Bookstore include Brooks Brothers, in partnership with Vesi, a Cincinnati-based Notre Dame licensee, and Cutter & Buck. Brooks Brothers and Vesi created a pilot program last year that featured men’s dress shirts and ties, but as a result of the focus group, women’s dress shirts have been added.
Vesi is also offering Lady Irish, a Notre Dame-branded product for women, and ND Gold, also a private label, for men. The Lady Irish collection includes knit sweaters, casual outerwear and shirts. New this year is Meesh & Mia, discovered by licensing staff in February at a Salt Lake City Book Store Trade Show.
Meesh & Mia targets a Coldwater Creek and Chico’s demographic and features evening casual and game day clothing.
“We are pleased that Licensing is being responsive to the needs of our professional women. There is clearly a need to enhance the selection of licensed Notre Dame apparel in the ladies’ category,” says David Harr, associate vice president for auxiliary operations.
‘Made in Ireland’ collection continues to grow
Enterprise Ireland, a state agency of the Irish government responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets, invited Low and senior representatives of Follett to Showcase Ireland, a Dublin trade show, in hopes of interesting them in Irish products. The visit resulted in the introduction last year of the “Made in Ireland” collection at the Bookstore.
Notre Dame identified 12 Irish companies to sell through the Bookstore. Various products were tested, with an initial selection of two-dozen items including jewelry, traditional Irish knits and hats, and outerwear being offered. “It was hugely successful,” says Low.
The line will be expanded this year with children’s wear and Irish table linens, as well as a larger selection of jewelry.
“It has been so much fun dealing with these small Irish family-owned businesses,” says Low. “They absolutely love being connected to Notre Dame.”
Textbook rental update
According to Keith Kirkpatrick, director of retail operations, the textbook rental program, initiated in 2010, is growing significantly.
“The first year we had $310,000 in rental sales, or 5.6 percent of the total textbook business. Last year we saw $640,000 in rental sales, over 12 percent of our total textbook business,” he says.
Each year, Follett compiles a list of titles eligible for the rental program. While there were 10,000 titles eligible in the first year, there are now more than 24,000 titles that instructors can choose from. For this fall, nearly 40 percent of classes have at least one rentable title listed by the instructor for their course materials.
Most books are ready for pick-up in the store approximately two weeks before the academic year begins. For this fall, 3,075 textbook titles have been ordered.
According to Kirkpatrick, discussion is under way to enhance the Bookstore café in the coming academic year. “It needs to be a destination and have an identity of its own.”
Beginning August 2013, Follett will also be opening and operating a dedicated gift shop in the newly expanded and renovated Morris Inn. The shop will feature an integrated online bridal registry for the convenience of the guests.
“Also, be sure to download our mobile device and iPad applications to simplify your Notre Dame shopping on-the-go,” says Kirkpatrick.