Greetings! What a year 2020 has been! A friend of mine recently posted a meme on Facebook that said something like “I’ve decided I am going to stay up until midnight on New Years' Eve this year. I just want to make sure 2020 leaves.” I know I feel that sentiment and many of you do as well.


While some stores have been open since late Spring, many are preparing to open for the first time. The OACS board has hosted several Zoom calls since the initial shut down, and while I have to say that before March I had not heard of Zoom, it has turned out to be a key way for us to connect no matter what stage of reopening we find ourselves in. Though our stores vary in size, the challenges related to COVID-19 have impacted us all in much the same way.


The board met several times over the past month to discuss plans for the Fall. Most universities are under some type of travel and/or budget restrictions so an in-person conference is not plausible. However, I have been in a bi-weekly state/regional meeting with NACS leadership throughout the summer and I am pleased to announce that we are currently working on plans for a virtual conference and trade show. I am excited about the ability you will have to interact with vendors in the platform NACS has licensed and watch for more details in the coming weeks.


OACS announced at a recent Zoom meeting that we are extending membership for 1 extra year for all current members and encouraging new members to join at no charge. We realize that budgets are tight and we want to make sure that you have a vital connection to other stores as we all work through the challenges in the coming months. We are asking that you confirm or update the contact information for your store personnel. This request for an update will be sent to via email.


It’s also time to start thinking about board nominations for the upcoming year. The following board positions need to be filled: Vice President-Elect (2-year Commitment), Treasurer (2-year term), Store Trustee (2-year term), and Vendor Trustee (2-year term). To find out more about these positions please check out this link. The board typically meets once per month via Zoom. I have served on the board as a Trustee, Vice Present-Elect, and now as President. The advantages of being on the board include serving alongside wonderful vendors and store members to provide educational content and support to our members, being on the leading edge of industry changes, added credibility with your administration, and much more. We are a fun group who love what we do and it is awesome to be able to serve on a board that wants to help stores stay independent. If you are interested in filling one of these positions or you would like to nominate someone else, please do so here.


I know there is still a lot of uncertainty in how everything will end up this year. There are so many unknowns but I want to end with what I do know. I know we have very talented, hardworking, and creative people in this industry. I know that we love what we do and will go the extra mile to help our campus and our colleagues succeed. Finally, I know that this situation will eventually be in the past. We will learn things, we will be stretched, but we will prevail. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the coming months!



Sincerely,


Tammy Slone

OACS President


Greetings! It’s time for another update from your OACS board!


Industry Updates

Several board members attended the ICBA annual conference earlier this month in sunny Tuscon, Arizona. It was much cooler than expected, but we enjoyed the blue skies, sunshine, and excellent education and networking opportunities!


The Course Materials Institute (CMI) occurred before the conference with just over 60 individuals in attendance. Jon Bibo, ICBA CEO, and his staff spent a brief time reflecting on course materials “as they were.” Do you remember when the biggest issues were getting faculty adoptions on time? Today, while we face the same struggles with faculty adoptions, but the greater challenges relate to the complexity of managing alternative sourcing, Inclusive Access programs, OER, declining buyback, LMS integration, publisher rentals, POS digital sales, and decreased responsiveness by major publishers.


The Institute presenters walked through all of these topics with valuable insights that culminated in, in my view, the highlight of the Institute. Participants were placed on teams and given group projects. The assignment was to prepare a five-minute presentation regarding the future of course materials. Several teams worked on the 1-2 year outlook while other teams worked on the 3-5 year outlook. A common theme was a shift from course materials as a revenue source to a service model. Sustaining current revenue in a landscape of decreasing margins will become increasingly difficult. Adding to the struggle are publisher

“direct to consumer” efforts which will further complicate our business. Campuses report seeing an increase of faculty working directly with the publisher and the LMS staff to integrate without the store’s knowledge or input. Do you know if this is happening on your campus?


A second theme was relationship management by telling your story. Your story is one that needs told with data, that is what the administrators expect. For instance, do you know your vendor performance numbers in course materials? How much of the campus market does the vendor have? What is the sell-through with that vendor? We usually know this data for general merchandise, but we need to know it for course materials too. When that vendor comes to your administration with a ‘deal’, can you provide numbers to show if what there offering is actually advantageous? As Heather Dean with Iowa State stated, “If you

can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Taking the driver's seat is key. Telling stories is something I often did with my kids. We would tell segment stories where somebody would start the story and each person took turns at 1-minute intervals adding to the story. The person who started the story had the advantage of setting the direction it would go. Everyone else was responding to the original teller. If you tell your story, you are entering a partnership as you talk with administrators, publishers, faculty, and students. You set the tone and direction going forward.


After CMI, we moved into the ICBA conference. Store, vendor, and industry experts shared encouraging information and wholly agreed across all presentations that retail is not dead! Statistics like - 5000 more stores opened than closed last year, the online sales return rate is 30% while in-store is 8.89%, and the fact that Amazon is opening physical stores - were great points to ponder. We were challenged by presentations on creative thinking (by the way, 80% of creativity is learned, not natural), looking at other industries for inspiration, challenging why we do things the way we do them, and the process of discovery. The challenges we face are either walls that stop us in our tracks or challenges for us to step back and create a better opportunity. Business is like a maze. We try to predict the way, occasionally we run into dead ends, but there is always a way if we are willing to do the work to find it.


Upcoming

The annual store Spring Meeting will take place at Ohio Wesleyan on Monday, April 6 from 10a-2p. There is no charge for this event, but we do need a head-count for food, so please register online at oacsohio.org by March 20. The Fall conference and trade show will be at Ashland University on October 12-13. Watch e-mail for more details.


Final thoughts

As always, reach out to board members and industry colleagues if there is any way we can assist you. We stand strong together!


Sincerely,


Tammy Slone

OACS President



Greetings! It’s time for another update from your OACS board!


Fall Conference Wrap-Up

Thanks to everyone who attended the Fall Conference at Ashland University! It was a wonderful time of celebrating 50 years as an organization. Forty-four individuals representing 23 schools were in attendance. Congratulations to Ohio Wesleyan and Southern Seminary, two university stores which have recently moved to independent. It was great to see you at the conference! We also had tremendous vendor support with 44 companies represented! The booth visit cards collected at the trade show indicate that individuals from schools visited an average of 16.37 vendors each and wrote orders 20.9% of the time.


The conference presented attendees with many learning and networking opportunities. Some highlights from the conference include the attendance of 10 past Presidents (including the very first President from 1969!) and recognition of vendor Russell Knight who has been with OACS since the beginning. Industry experts led sessions on marketing and social media, general merchandise trends, smart sourcing, and inventory management. The new NACS CEO, Ed Schlichenmayer, gave updates on the industry and NACS during a well-attended session. Roundtable discussions were also a favorite as course materials managers, general merchandise buyers, and store directors broke out into small groups to learn from each other. Thanks to everyone who gave us survey feedback after the conference. Your feedback helps the board effectively plan around your interests and is appreciated!


Next October, we will be returning to Ashland University for the Fall conference. The facility is perfect for our conference size. Lower expenses at this venue enabled us to decrease registration fees. We will be announcing a date soon, so watch your email!


Spring 2020 Meeting

Plans are beginning for the Spring store meeting, which will be at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware sometime in April. The meeting is free to store members and includes lunch. Watch your e-mail for upcoming details. Thanks to Mike Brockfield at OWU for hosting us!


Industry Updates

We were sad to hear of the passing of Anthony Martin on November 10. Anthony was a huge supporter of the industry during his career. He served as a vendor, store manager, and, most recently, a NACS employee. While I personally only met Anthony a couple of times, I could see the genuine heart he had for people and the industry. The NACS Foundation has set up a memorial fund in Anthony’s name. You can find more information on how you can give to the fund at nacsfoundation.org. IndiCo continues the wind-down of its book business. In a November 11 communication, they announced that final returns on books must be received at their warehouse by December 31. This is the final step in the transition of their book distribution business to Ingram. IndiCo and Ingram have been working to make the transition as seamless as possible. If you need assistance, reach out to either company, they will be glad to give further details on account set-up, establishing credit limits, etc.


The next industry events include Tailgate in Las Vegas, January 16-18, ICBA in Tuscon, February 3-6, and CAMEX in New Orleans, February 8-11. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”― William Butler Yeats. I encourage you to commit the coming year to learn for success. Attending industry events helps you navigate the challenges that will surely come. It is money and time well spent!


Final Thoughts

The college bookstore industry is unique and filled with people who not only love what they do but are also very good at it. As we approach the end of another semester, I encourage you to reach out to industry colleagues if you need fresh ideas or assistance. The beauty of this industry and being a part of OACS is we are not alone. We stand strong together!



Sincerely,


Tammy Slone

OACS President

Cedarville University Bookstore

Contact us
  • Facebook - White Circle

© 2020 Ohio Association of College Stores