Private company to take over bookstore operations

Email this article 10/21/2011

Uvalde bookstoreAn outside company will take over operation of the SWTJC bookstore starting as early as November 1.

College trustees voted unanimously to out-source operation of the bookstore to Dallas-based Texas Book Company, during their regular monthly meeting held Thursday, Oct. 20, in Uvalde.

According to controller Anne Tarski, a total of four companies submitted proposals.

"Our goal in this process was to provide our students, faculty and staff with the best options possible at the campus bookstore," Tarski told the board. "We believe the Texas Book Company is the best choice and the administration recommends contracting with them."

Trustee Tony Moreno asked what this would mean to existing employees and Tarski said the new operators "would like to keep our staff." Two full-time, one part-time and several student work study positions are in question.

"While benefitting our students was the main objective of this proposal, we didn't want to benefit them at the expense of our staff," Tarski said. "If our staff doesn't want to work for TBC, we have other options for them. I think this will be a win-win situation for everyone."

Tarski listed the expanded availability of used textbooks and better buy-back prices for students selling books as the two biggest benefits for students.

"This company has operations at several colleges across the state and that will mean more used books will be available and students will get more money when they sell their books back," Tarski said.

In addition, TBC has committed to spend $80,000 on renovating the existing book store in Uvalde and $75,000 on installing a new computer system utilizing their software. TBC will continue day-to-day operations as in the past, with the Uvalde site open all year and Del Rio and Eagle Pass open at the beginning and end of each semester.

Expanded inventory, including school supplies, accessories like backpacks and t-shirts, and some food items, will also be part of the new arrangement.

"The way I envision it, the new bookstore will be more like a small convenience store," Tarski said.

TBC, which operates the book store on the Sul Ross State University main campus in Alpine, also hopes to be able to better serve Sul Ross students attending Rio Grande College classes in Uvalde, Del Rio and Eagle Pass.

The college will receive a 9% commission on all sales, according to terms of the five-year contract. "It will depend on their sales, but I believe we should be able to generate about the same revenue, while better serving our students," Tarski said. "Like I said, we believe it is a win-win situation across the board."

In other action at Thursday's board meeting, the board approved amending the lease agreement with the South Texas Regional Training Center in Hondo.

The amended lease will add $1,000 a month to the current agreement to pay half the salary of a full-time receptionist for the facility. SWTJC began offering classes at the new center this fall.

SWTJC Dean of Admissions Joe Barker told the board the new position would give the college a much-needed, full-time presence in Hondo to assist in helping the college expand its service to Medina County residents.

"The main benefit for the college is that we will have someone there to help students get started on filling out their SWTJC application and their application for financial aid," Barker said. "These are essential steps for all prospective students and having someone on site to help get them started will be a tremendous help."

The only other action taken by the board was setting Dec. 8 as the next meeting date.

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