Jenna Stephens—Staff Writer
Sweatshirts, travel mugs, padfolios—countless products lining the shelves of Dordt’s Bookstore must be swapped out for replacements displaying the new ‘university’ logo. The challenge to order and stock shelves with new merchandise was met with record-breaking sales over Defender Days, revealing some of the challenges – and benefits – which accompany the transition to Dordt University.
Lora DeVries, director of Bookstore Services at Dordt, said she had a pretty good idea that the change from college to university was a strong possibility from nine months to a year before the announcement was made. Although those involved in the decision could not give her a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ the possibility of the switch led Bookstore staff to order merchandise which simply said ‘Dordt’ or ‘Dordt Defenders.’
Once the board finalized the official logo design, the Bookstore faced limited turnaround time and rushed to order merchandise before Defender Days.
When the new products came in, staff checked it all over and then formulated a plan for how they would make the transition.
The Bookstore closed its doors at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday of Defender Days. At that time, Bookstore coordinators and some temp people began replacing the “Coming soon: Dordt University” signs on the back wall with merchandise featuring the new design. They worked until about 10:30 that night to make the switch and prepare for the surge of customers Saturday morning. When the logo reveal event in the Campus Center ended, they pulled black plastic from the store’s windows to show a display of ‘university’ gear.
The store opened its doors at 9:00 Saturday morning. Defender Days guests flocked to the store to purchase the new merchandise. Lines of people ready to check-out zig-zagged across the store.
“There literally were times when, if I had to get to the front of the store from the back, or the other way around, I couldn’t do it because it was just packed full of people,” DeVries said.
Tyler Postma, a work-study student, worked all day Saturday. He had not seen any of the new clothes until that morning, as the Bookstore coordinators kept them well hidden.
“There were times where I was standing at the register, looked up, and saw at least 50 people milling around. So lots of chatter!” Postma said. “I think a lot of people chose to make the Bookstore their meeting spot for the day, because there were always clumps of people talking.”
DeVries guessed 80 to 90 percent of the merchandise they sold that day was ‘university’ gear. But ‘college’ merchandise also contributed to the boost in sales as alumni came in to purchase products with that logo before it disappears.
“It’s always been busy with Defender Days—we always call that kind of our ‘Christmas’—but this year we did an extremely good amount of sales on that day,” she said.
DeVries added it was a record-breaking day by far, regarding both the number of customers and total sales.
Postma considered the best part of the day to be working with all of the store’s employees. Working nine hours with his co-workers made the day much more enjoyable.
“The worst part was refolding all the clothes, especially the new clothes,” Postma said. “The ‘university’ clothes were in the back and people were always cramped in there, so refolding was impossible and the shelves were a mess.”
The Bookstore has not faced any major hiccups in Dordt’s transition to a university, but the biggest challenge has been getting all of the products in on time. Since sales were so good, they had to quickly re-order.
The majority of the feedback that staff has received about the new merchandise has been positive. But for those who graduated from the institution while it was still a college, the Bookstore might occasionally carry a ‘retro’ piece with the old logo.
When the Bookstore first opened, its sales included about 90 percent books and 10 percent other merchandise. This is no longer the case. In the midst of the Bookstore’s shift from ‘college’ to ‘university,’ staff decided that this would also be a good time to change the store’s name to ‘Campus Store.’
The store is making the transition to ‘university’ gradually, and staff hope that, by the end of this school year, the majority of the merchandise will be switched over to reflect Dordt University.