Bookstore returns to the B building

DSC_0522Bellevue College’s bookstore reopened March 7 after two days of transition. The newly-designed space is significantly more open than the previous incarnation, and the remodel comes with a change in business model as well.

The return to the B building is the end of a process which began four years ago and is also part of a larger project to remodel much of the B building, including the testing center which has also recently returned to its previous location in the B building. According to the contracting company assigned to the project, Kirtley Cole Associates, the total cost of the project is projected to be between $1,825,000 to $2,110,000.

The new store is different in a variety of ways, having been redesigned with the student in mind. The first thing one might notice is the immensity of the remodeled store, the new space comes from a consolidation of the employees’ individual offices into general office space, as well as a 30 percent reduction in the size of the receiving area.

The ceiling has been entirely reworked, with new HVAC, lighting and plumbing. According to Ben Conner, project manager and safety officer for the contractors who have been working on the project, there are now “three new bathrooms” and “retro-plated concrete.” The new flooring is actually the result of tearing out the previous linoleum and polishing what was beneath.

Prior to 2004, the bookstore operated much more like a typical department store, students would browse the products at their leisure, picking books off of the shelves themselves and bringing them to the cash register. Bookstore Director, Kristen Connely, explained “we actually had lines that lasted longer back then because students, once they were in the store were comfortable and taking their time. We were still helping them find their books, but it took longer.”

In 2004 much of the B building was flooded, and the bookstore was forced to relocate to the D building. The layout of the new space necessitated that they utilized counter service, students would tell employees what book they are looking for and the employees would retrieve the book for them. They “were able to help more people faster when we had that service than when we had them picking their own books off of the shelf.” When ultimately they returned to their space in the B building they maintained that style of service, up until now.

According to Conner, The shelves and desks of the new store “are on rollers, you’ll be able to move them around, put them in storage if you don’t need them.” After the flood, it was realized that had the fixtures been moveable, cleanup and repair would have been expedited.

Beyond preparedness for another disaster, the mobile layout allows for quick changes to the floor plan depending on the needs of the store throughout the quarter. During the rush of the first couple weeks of school, the layout may be augmented to “line students up more efficiently.” Whether it’s textbooks, calculators or paint, students can now browse it all on their own.