California State University, Long Beach
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University Bookstore Named Top Collegiate Retailer In The Nation

Published: March 1, 2013

The University Bookstore at CSULB has been chosen as the Collegiate Retailer of the Year (CROY). The honor is awarded biennially by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) and given to one college store that displays extraordinary leadership and excellence among the nation’s prominent collegiate retailers. CSULB is the second recipient of the CROY Award, the inaugural award going to the University of Dayton in 2011.

The award was presented to CSULB representatives on Feb. 23 at the Campus Market Expo hosted by the NACS at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo., held Feb. 22-26.

The Collegiate Retailer of the Year Award is underwritten through the Tommye and Keith Miller Endowment Fund. The Millers spent their careers in the industry and it was their passion for it that inspired them to endow an award celebrating a dynamic and forward-thinking store’s achievement. Judging for the award is based upon six criteria—campus connection, academic support, customer commitment, shopping experience, workplace culture and profitability.

“I think this confirms for me and many on our staff just how much we are doing,” said Don Penrod, general manager and CEO of the Forty-Niner Shops Inc. “I really think this gives us a great lift to keep the faith, to keep going and to feel confident in our ability to do the tasks we are doing.”

The University Bookstore, which is under the umbrella of the Forty-Niner Shops Inc., includes art and computer stores, ID card services, the Campus Copy Center and The Beach on Second Street store, a spirit boutique situated in the Belmont Shore section of Long Beach.

Members of the award’s selection committee all agreed that what set the University Bookstore apart from all other entrants was the genuine caring, consideration and “soul” that shone through in the store’s submission materials.

“Their packet clearly and consistently reflected a strong feeling that everyone in their operation fully embodied and excelled through a series of initiatives, programs and actions—those selection criteria that the award emphasizes,” the committee wrote. “Additionally, the staff showed a lot of heart in everything they do. Raising money for scholarships while actively engaging vendors for support is no small feat. The store employees are very active citizens within their campus community. They offer many programs, options and initiatives—such as the Information Exchange Luncheon and a price-match guarantee—along with staff scholarships and other opportunities to encourage leadership within the operation.”

Camex conference
Representing CSULB at the 2013 CAMEX Conference were (l-r) Chris Tabellario, art store and supplies buyer/manager; Brian Fetterman, book division manager; Cyndi Farrington, ID card services and warehouse manager; Tristy Hillestad, bookstore services director; and Kristin Bonetati, soft goods buyer/manager.

The University Bookstore has 22 full-time staffers and 180 student workers, plus up to 160 additional student workers during peak periods.

“This is a real tribute to the hard work of our bookstore managers and staff,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “To be named ‘the best’ among all the colleges and universities in the nation is an incredible accomplishment that everyone in the CSULB family should take great pride.”

The University Bookstore has evolved to become one of the most student success-oriented organizations on campus. It has always been on the cutting edge of its industry, continually seeking out emerging technologies specific to college bookstores and its customer-based business approach.

“The University Bookstore’s selection as National Collegiate Retailer of the Year is a prestigious award and confirms what the campus community already knows; that is, that the University Bookstore is a stellar operation that is exceptionally well-run,” said Doug Robinson, vice president for student services at CSULB. “This award is not only an honor for the Forty-Niner Shops Inc., but it is an honor to the university as a whole.”

In recognition of its achievement, the University Bookstore will receive $5,000 which it will donate to Bowling for Books, its annual fundraiser held to bring textbook scholarships to students.

–Shayne Schroeder