As an unusual amount of rain showered campus early this fall, Chelsea Fox '14 noticed that her old rain boots were about to wear out.
This year, she did not have to drive to a nearby store or trudge off campus, where the campus store was previously located. All she needed was a quick trip to the new store in Caldwell Commons, where she found a sleek pair of black-and-white boots.
"I really liked the new location because before, I had to walk all the way up to Rivermont Avenue."
For nearly 10 years, the College contracted with Barnes & Noble to operate its campus store in a commercial building about one block from campus. Purchasing books or College merchandise required a trek across the hill covered campus and outside the Red Brick Wall.
This summer, the College renovated a space near the Cheatham Dining Hall to make a new, on-campus home for the store. The renovation also revamped the Casner and Darden conference rooms and created a sitting area.
The renovated space is now called Caldwell Commons, after longtime College supporters Katharine "Kitty" Stark Caldwell '74 and her husband, Hacker.
The new store provides more convenient shopping for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. As an independent store, it also has a larger selection of clothing and other items bearing the College's logo. Chris Burnley, vice president for finance and administration, said the change was made to improve service to students in several ways. The move allowed the College to expand access to branded merchandise, and it provides more freedom in textbook purchases.
"As online book purchases became more prevalent, we had students who wanted ISBN numbers so they could purchase their textbooks online," Burnley said. However, the contract with Barnes & Noble discouraged alternate ways to purchase books. Randolph began a partnership this fall with eCampus, an online textbook seller that lets students retrieve ISBNs and buy their textbooks wherever they choose.
Coral Carter, who has managed the College's store under Barnes & Noble for several years, is working to keep the store stocked with new merchandise, which runs the gamut from lap desks with matching fleece blankets to dorm fans. "Everybody seems happy with the location," Carter said. "They enjoy it being closer to campus, and I see students a lot more than I ever did at the other store. We've had lots of business every day."