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Updated: Nov 25, 2019

The shipping room is buzzing with activity as we prepare for incoming freshman in just over two weeks! The industry is also buzzing with changes that have become a part of our daily norm over the past few years. I want to highlight a few of them for you.

The National Association of College Stores made some key change announcements at the annual membership meeting July 24. First, Bob Walton, CEO, has been asked to step down and Ed Schlichenmayer will now fill the position. Ed has been involved with the association for 19 years and has an extensive background in college retail. We are excited to see him take the organization back to the roots of supporting the independent college store industry!

Another significant change is that indiCo will be winding down its general merchandise program and exiting the textbook distribution business as well. A decision is coming in the next few months on the trade book distribution business, so look for details on this in the future. IndiCo will continue to fulfill textbook orders for Fall rush where possible, but will not be selling textbooks for the next rush period. NACS is also moving away from the indiCo program of pursuing contracted management of college stores. Going forward they will operate with the intent of moving stores they are currently contracted with back to independent stores.

In library news, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact presented a webinar that featured OhioLINK speaking about their course materials affordability initiatives. This link will take you to the part of the presentation where they speak about the OhioLINK initiative with Inclusive Access. When you watch this short OhioLINK segment, I think it will highlight the importance of getting in front of this topic on your campus. Unfortunately, the message portrayed to policy makers through OhioLINK is that bookstores are often an obstacle when in fact, most of us are already doing Inclusive Access, OER, and the other type of content delivery mentioned. A better approach is to work together in a cross-team effort with all of the key players at the table. Course materials need to be looked at as a basis for student success and not a battleground for library or bookstore survival. We can accomplish a lot more working together using combined strengths. My interactions with other bookstores indicates that most stores feel this way.

In OACS news, the board has been working on Fall Conference preparations which are coming together nicely! We are celebrating our 50th anniversary as an organization and will be recognizing and honoring some past presidents and a special vendor who has been with OACS from the beginning! The program is packed with presenters from the industry and features sessions on marketing and social media, general merchandise trends, inventory management, panel discussions, store only roundtables, store/vendor roundtables, and a vendor trade show! Register now using this link.

The event will be October 7 & 8 at Ashland University - conveniently located just 1 hour north of Columbus and only a few miles off I-71. The conference sessions start at 10am on Monday and will finish at 2pm on Tuesday. Registration is only $130 for store members and $150 for vendor members and gives you full access to all conference functions. Make hotel reservations at the Hampton Inn of Ashland by calling 419-903-0900. Receive a 15% discount by mentioning you are an Ashland Guest. We do not have a block of rooms reserved so make your reservations early.

Renew your membership when you register for the conference to receive a 25% discount on your membership. Membership benefits include bi-monthly industry updates, free admission to the OACS Spring meeting, access to relevant education, and industry networking opportunities.

Finally, OACS is also looking to fill several board positions for the coming year. Members will receive a link to a nomination ballot soon. Nominate yourself or an industry colleague one of the open offices. Diversity in college stores type and size is crucial to having a representative board so we hope you will seriously consider getting involved. The time commitment is manageable and it is highly rewarding to walk alongside and assist your colleagues as we navigate through change. Open positions include Vice President-Elect, Secretary, Store Trustee, and Vendor Trustee.

We are excited as a board to serve you and look forward to seeing you all at Fall Conference. Again, membership and conference registration is available here.

Privileged to Serve! See you soon!

Tammy Slone, OACS President

Manager of Retail Services

Cedarville University


May 2019

Did you notice the anniversary logo? That’s right, OACS is celebrating 50 years as an organization of independent bookstores in the state of Ohio, and we are still going strong! Ohio colleges and universities continue to pull together to engage, encourage, and educate as we network with others who know our business. While the “nuts and bolts” of the industry continue to transform, the mission we all have to support our students and campus have not. Successful stores are those that innovate and take every opportunity to embrace and lead their school through change. Through membership in OACS and attendance at the Spring and Fall meetings, stores learn about services, products, and programs that can inspire innovation. Vendor partners and your store colleagues can offer suggestions and advice that can stimulate that one idea that is the crucial change you need in your operation.

The OACS board has spent considerable time evaluating the Fall conference. There is so much value in the networking, educational content, and the tradeshow. Our goal was to lower costs so more schools can participate. I am excited to announce that we have achieved this goal by restructuring the conference. First, all activities will take place in two days instead of three eliminating one hotel night. Additionally, we have simplified the price structure and reduced costs for both members and vendors. The store attendee cost is $130 (a $70 reduction per person from last year, and the vendor cost is $150 (a $100 decrease per person from last year). These costs will give you access to all meals and events associated with the conference over two days. By simplifying the price structure, shortening the conference, adding more roundtable time, and using industry colleagues as presenters, we have reduced expenses which lowers your cost!

Another savings we are pleased to announce is that membership dues will be reduced by 25% for those who have a least one person attending the Fall conference. Become a member of OACS at the time you register for the Fall conference and your schools yearly membership dues will be reduced from $100 to $75. Membership is a way for you to support the organization and help OACS stand strong for independent stores in Ohio.

In the past seven years, I have gleaned so much from my fellow Ohioans through my membership in OACS and attendance at these conferences. Many of the ideas we have implemented at my store came from one of you sharing what you were doing in your store. As you reflect on finishing this year of serving your campuses and approach another year of opportunities, we look forward to coming together as independent stores to share the message that we are still alive and well in the state of Ohio! Leaning on each other we can stand strong against the winds of change!

See you in October!

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

Tammy Slone | Manager of Retail Services at Cedarville University and Current OACS President

March 2019

I began this campus store adventure in 2012 with tons of excitement. I love to be involved with new things and our campus store definitely needed some reinventing. The challenge of turning around a store that was in decline was exhilarating, and I dug in with my normal zeal. I had done this in another operation on campus, how hard could it be? Naïve, right?

I started with 4 full-time and 2 part-time staff plus a couple of student workers. However, in that first year, due to retirements; people leaving for full-time employment; and employees choosing to go a different direction; the entire staff turned over. Try being a course materials buyer when you don’t know the difference between a publisher and wholesaler (yes, I was that green when my course materials buyer left). But I don’t like to lose so I chose not to give up. I hired new staff and started over! Then my store was successful, profits increased, everyone was happy, and I was the best manager ever… Well, not really.

We were paying too much for textbooks, students weren’t shopping in the store, campus faculty were directing students online, tour guides would stand outside the store saying “this is the bookstore, you can get your books here, but you will find them cheaper at Amazon or Chegg”. I was exasperated, I felt like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch Roadrunner, but instead taking anvils to the head!

So I sought help. My team and I first connected with OACS in 2013. We didn’t know much, but we found that there were lots of people in the industry that did. Making connections at OACS & NACS meetings allowed us to glean knowledge in everything from financial management to event planning and everything in between. We were amazed at the number of people who generously gave us time, encouragement and advice. We went to meetings with schools literally 10 times bigger and 2 times smaller than our store, but we found there were principles and pieces no matter the store size that we could take back and implement. We approached every obstacle as temporary, not an insurmountable wall. We figured out how to get around, under, or over it.

So what is the point? I would venture to say that many of you are feeling like you have been hit with a few anvils. You may feel like you are riding a wave that is headed for a rocky shore where you will meet your demise. Stop thinking that way! Take control of what you can control. Publishers might control how they will make their content available but they don’t control you or your campus. Get out front, talk to your administration, meet with your faculty, be the campus leader on navigating this new world. Control how content comes to your campus by being the expert your faculty and administration trust. When a new change comes, consider it a challenge, not a wall. Get out of your store and talk to industry colleagues. Attend meetings and conferences when possible. If you can’t travel find webinars or get on a listserv like the Hub and read everything you can get your hands on. Knowledge is power! As an industry, we have always been about supporting our schools, this is the time for you to shine! Always do your best, you will win some, you will lose some, but you will be satisfied knowing you gave it your all!

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. Henry Ford

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