I’ve come to terms with the fact that Lawrence is ignoring the opportunity to make tremendous amounts of money by opening a campus-operated bookstore. In that spirit, I have briefly considered opening a bookstore outside a small liberal arts college in an effort to capitalize on the ignorant and unknowing instead of completing my degree. Although I’ve resigned myself to that sorry truth, as I purchased my textbooks for my third term classes, I was still peeved at the way those who glibly take my textbook money conduct their business.Like many Lawrence students who have grudgingly accepted how ridiculously priced college textbooks are, I’ve found few websites or other textbook sources that are as convenient as a walk down College Avenue to Conkey’s. These sources allow me to avoid the ubiquitous reminders of how little Conkey’s values its college customers.
This term I became aware of the miraculous way in which every sale sign and promotional deal at Conkey’s excludes textbooks. For instance, a sale a few weeks ago boasted store credit for purchases of $100 or more, with huge discounts on a variety of other books—textbooks excluded. A sign behind the counter reads that complementary handbags are given to customers spending $100 or more—once again, textbooks excluded. In fact, I can’t remember a single instance since the $10 gift certificate I received as a freshman when Conkey’s has had a promotional deal to thank the college students who grudgingly (and three times a year) spend large amounts of money at their store.
Also, the customer service side of their sales is noticeably lacking concerning college students. When calling to see if the textbooks for third term were in, a friend of mine also inquired as to what books were required in his class—and was denied an answer by the employee he spoke with. Furthermore, many of the signs posted beneath the course names this term in the Lawrence textbook section do not have complete lists of the books required for the class. When I asked an employee about the history books I needed for a certain course, the employee refused to show me the “master list,” and instead insisted upon playing twenty questions before locating the correct course listing on their own.
I’m not asking for a parade in honor of all textbook-purchasing students. I don’t even want a stupid handbag. What I would like to see, however, is a bookstore that takes the sting out of spending a large chunk of my work-study every term by offering small discounts—like a small percentage off large purchases, a gift card for $20 off my next purchase after I spend the first $500 (seriously), or even the occasional coupon. Instead, I’m faced with a bunch of sale signs that pointedly exclude me, despite the fact that as a college student, I am the reason Conkey’s can hold such massive sales in the first place.