CHARLESTON — The Eastern Illinois University Bookstore is closed Black Friday and the following weekend due to Thanksgiving break, so the Christmas shopping season has a quieter start there than at other retail establishments.
Still, Manager Mitch Coe said the Christmas shopping season in its entirety typically brings in a steady stream of customers that rivals the large turnout created during back-to-school week, homecoming, and Parents Weekend.
“During the holiday season, we see good sales pretty much from after Thanksgiving through to the week the students go home for break,” Coe said of the Bookstore, which is located on the ground floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.
The Bookstore usually experiences an uptick in sales of EIU-related apparel and souvenirs, and of New York Times Bestsellers list books during the Christmas shopping season, Coe said. He added that there is also an increase in demand for the store’s line of iPad, iPhone and other Apple products, which are available exclusively to EIU students, faculty and staff through a licensing agreement.
Coe said the Bookstore does steady business at this time of year both on the sales floor and online at www.eiubookstore.com with EIU community members who are purchasing presents for their families. He said students oftentimes load up on gifts before they go home for winter break and parents will shop at the store while they are on campus to pick up their students for break.
Both Coe and Assistant Manager Judi Konrad said the Christmas shopping season is one of their favorite times of the year to work at the Bookstore because the holiday season tends to lift the spirits of customers.
“It’s a fun time to be out on the floor with the customers,” Coe said. “Customer service is the best part of the job.”
Just before Thanksgiving break, Konrad gives the Bookstore a festive atmosphere by switching to Christmas music on the public address system and hanging holiday decorations from the ceiling. These decorations join the photographs of Bookstore employees and other EIU community members that line the walls.
Coe said they keep their workforce at the Bookstore’s regular level of three full-time and one part-time EIU staff members and 20-25 student workers throughout the Christmas shopping season.
Student worker Isaac Barker, a junior from Charleston, has worked at the Bookstore for three years now. Barker said he started as a sales associate in the store, but now spends much of his time in the basement workshop as an Apple technician.
Barker, who is a management information systems major, said he has gained a lot of computer technician and customer service experience at the Bookstore that will serve him well in his future career. He said enjoys having the increase opportunity to interact with customers at the store at Christmastime while he helps them consider high-tech gift options.
“I particularly like doing that, demonstrating products and showing them what they can do,” Barker said.
EIU psychology faculty member Bill Addison said he has purchased several EIU-related T-shirts and sweat shirts over the years at the Bookstore as Christmas gifts for his immediate family, as well as young nephews and a niece in other states.
Addison said he also appreciates that the store stocks books written by EIU faculty members, as well as a variety of other books. The store carries discounted hard backs, best sellers, history and children’s books, biographies, classics, graphic novels, and more.
“It’s one of the few places you can go and actually browse hard copies of books,” Addison said.
Konrad said the Bookstore also appeals to artists on and off campus with a large selection of art supplies. Approximately one-fourth of the sales floor is devoted to canvas, art pencils, oil and acrylic paints, art paper, foam core, mat boards, and a wide variety of other supplies.
“There are some regular customers from outside of town too,” Konrad said of demand for the art supplies.
The Bookstore is open from open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday each week when EIU is in regular session. For more information, call the store at 217-581-7234.
Contact Stroud at email@example.com or 217-238-6861.