By Courtney Flagg
This past weekend marked the grand opening of the Barnes & Noble and University bookstore partnership in downtown Lewisburg.
The new Barnes & Noble boasts spacious floors, all of which are wheelchair-accessible, and sells everything from contemporary literature and textbooks to clothing and dorm room essentials.
“[The bookstore] is beautiful. It’s really great to have a large bookstore downtown. It’s very accessible,” Lewisburg resident Chris Exner said.
The decision to move the bookstore downtown—and subsequently off the University campus—was ultimately made by the University Board of Trustees. It followed several years of discussion, led by former University President Brian C. Mitchell, both on campus and in the community.
“The move off campus was made possible by grants from the Commonwealth, which under the leadership of Governor Rendell encouraged and provided grant money for small-town economic development projects, such as this one, and by the University’s desire to link more closely with Lewisburg and create more open space for students in the Langone Center,” said Tom Evelyn, senior director of News and Media Relations.
Despite the initial concern that a Starbucks Café in downtown Lewisburg would threaten local coffee shops, feedback for both the bookstore and café have been very positive.
“Based on the number of customers who have visited the bookstore, and on the comments they have shared with us, there is a significant interest in having a comprehensive bookstore and café in downtown Lewisburg. As a member of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, the bookstore is working closely with that organization to help support and promote other downtown businesses. It is in the bookstore’s and the University’s best interest that downtown thrive,” Evelyn said .
Members of the Lewisburg community, including University faculty, agree that the bookstore is a great place for students and community members alike.
“The bookstore is a nice facility and it forces students to come into the community, which I think is great,” Lewisburg resident and University professor of sociology and anthropology Clare Sammells said.
Students are equally pleased with the new bookstore.
“I’m really impressed with the bookstore. I thought having it so far from campus would be an issue, but the University seems to be handling it pretty well and making it easy for students,” Eryn Nagel ’12 said.
Students were encouraged to participate in the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University Bookstore Grand Opening Weekend.
The Grand Opening consisted of a ribbon-cutting; a street fair, which advertised free food, entertainment and prize giveaways; and “Children’s Day,” which provided the downtown community with free children’s entertainment on Saturday afternoon.
The opening drew a large crowd and involved all aspects of the downtown community.
Evelyn supported the idea that increased business at the bookstore downtown will subsequently increase the business for all of downtown Lewisburg.
“Of course downtown has room for all kinds of businesses, and the hope shared by the University and the Borough of Lewisburg is that the bookstore will serve as an anchor that will help bring more business to all of the area merchants and encourage other businesses to locate downtown,” Evelyn said.
Throughout the planning of the downtown bookstore, the University and Barnes & Noble have worked together to address concerns of both students and the community.
“These efforts have included the University’s adding a shuttle system for students and the option to order textbooks online and have them delivered to the campus post office,” Evelyn said.
He also explained that renovations are in the works to turn the space previously occupied by the on-campus bookstore into a place where “students can gather, socialize and take care of important business for student organizations.”
Renovations are expected to be completed by the end of the semester.
Bookstore manager Vicki Benion was unable to be reached for comment.