Expanded Bookstore to Open Soon

Tiffany Hsu covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]





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ASUC officials plan to partially unveil the newly revamped student bookstore early next week. It will offer students three levels of textbooks and merchandise.

The new store will partially open in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union either Monday or Tuesday, pending the results of a fire safety test administered this morning, according to ASUC officials.

While the second floor of the store finishes up construction, textbooks and supplies will stay in the basement. General-interest books and logo merchandise will move to the first and second floors.

Plans also include a Nike section on the second floor to represent the company's sponsorship of university sports teams, said Greg Kiryakakis, director of the student store.

The extended space, which will have a more publicized grand opening in April, has already been filled with more merchandise than the old store could accommodate, he said.

"If you were here in 1997, it was like a labyrinth," said Tom Cordi, director of the ASUC Auxiliary. "It's going to be a much better store than it has been in the past. It's just a better

environment."

The new store will also boast new customer service desks, cameras to prevent theft, ramps, wider halls and an elevator, Cordi said.

Improvements to the store were made with students and their budgets in mind, Cordi said.

Officials expect the newly refurbished store to draw customers away from competitors, such as Ned's Bookstore across the street.

"This renovation really brings our campus up to par, even superior to other campuses," said ASUC President Misha Leybovich. "It was doing pretty well, but in one semester, we went from an underperforming store to one of the best in California."

The project, which has been in the works since 1998, has racked up a $3 million tab, which ASUC will finance through its partnership with the Follett Higher Education Group, a national textbook contracting company that manages efollett.com.

The ASUC struck a deal with the company in 1998 when the remodeling plans were first made. The partnership gave Follett the exclusive right to sell textbooks on campus in exchange for full funding of the store's expansion.

"Basically, we're doing all the work, but with their money," Cordi said.

However, once the MLK basement was cleared of its original bowling alley, construction was slowed by asbestos concerns and the need to install an elevator to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

After seven years, construction is in its final stages, and the ASUC is setting out on a larger plan to make over the entire student union. Plans include a revamped Bearcade, a photo development shop and a coffee lounge with pool tables for students to "kick it between classes," Leybovich said.

He hopes the student union will become a hub of student activity.

"I see the student union to be a downtown for students," Leybovich said. "It's like the Field of Dreams- build it, and they will come."

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