WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster’s Florence O. Wilson Bookstore has a new look, and Michael Hicks, director of bookstore operations, is hoping that students, faculty, staff, and members of the community will soon become hooked.
Hicks, who came to Wooster from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., last fall, has applied his 25-plus years of experience in the industry to reimagine and redesign the store’s layout so that it will be roomier and more inviting to consumers.
One of the more noticeable changes is the relocation of the clothing items, which are now easily visible from the store’s front entrance. Hicks says the shirts, shorts, hats, hoodies, and related apparel — most of which carry the Nike, Russell, and Under Armor labels — are more vibrant and colorful this year.
Another change is a newly formed alliance with the copy center, which Hicks hopes will one day resemble a Staples-like operation with folding, binding, and laminating services, among others. The bookstore also offers shipping through UPS and FedEx as well as dry cleaning, and, of course, a wide range of books — everything from texts to bestsellers.
Hicks wants to make the bookstore a more active and engaging destination by sponsoring public events, such as poetry readings and book signings by authors. “We want the bookstore to become a gathering place where people can come, visit, converse, and share all that we have to offer,” he says. “We now have the room to do this.”
Hicks credits his staff for continuing to transform the store. “I challenge my staff to believe in the ‘what if’ philosophy: what if we tried this or that?” he says. “We are always brainstorming, looking for new ideas to make the store a fun place to visit. New items, like an elaborate 500-piece puzzle of Kauke Hall, a mini-dorm room size version of corn hole, and dozens of board games, are a result of that ‘thinking outside of the box’ attitude.”
Speaking of games, Hicks is passionate about board games, and on Sunday nights between 5-10 p.m., he converts the bookstore into a gaming paradise. “I believe that board gaming gives us an opportunity to communicate with others, to share in laughter and friendship,” he says. “One of my goals, here at Wooster, has been to create a club or group that would allow others who share the same passion for game playing as I do to get together. This group is open to students, faculty, staff, and, just as important, to members of the surrounding community.
“I started the club by hosting a tournament with a game night last spring,” adds Hicks. “The tournament was successful, and through that event I met two other people who listened to my idea about creating a ‘Wooster Board Gaming Society,’ and we are now up and running.”
Overall, Hicks want the bookstore to have a personality so that people will really enjoy their experiences. “When they leave, we want them to have a smile on their face,” he says.
The bookstore is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 330-263-2421 or visit www.wooster.edu/offices/bookstore.
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