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UCD Bookstore plans to open shop downtown

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March 17, 2011 | Leave Comment

UC Davis Bookstore employees Arianna Azevedo and Justin Haasis sort through the inventory of Aggie sweatshirts at the campus store on Thursday. A satellite shop is expected to open later this spring in downtown Davis. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

UC Davis fans seeking shirts and sweatshirts to show their Aggie pride soon will have to go no farther than downtown Davis.

The UCD Bookstore on campus plans to open a satellite shop — also selling gift items and a limited selection of books — at the southwest corner of Second and F streets later this spring.

“We’re very excited to be downtown. We can hardly wait,” said Jean Aguirre, general merchandise manager for the UC Davis Bookstore on campus.

Store Director Chuck Kratochvil added that the shop will help with economic revitalization efforts and “we’ve always had the intent to bond more with the downtown merchants.”

The approximately 4,600-square-foot downtown space encompasses two storefronts at 624 and 630 Second St. First Northern Bank’s real estate division moved out last year and Strands salon will soon move to 135 F St., according to property owner Steve Boschken. Davis Community Properties and Boschken Properties were the leasing agents.

Boschken said he’s working with the city of Davis to obtain building permits needed for remodeling to begin. The store, tentatively called UC Davis Store Downtown, is expected to open by the end of May. Interior renovation is planned as well as the addition of some windows, he said.

Joy Cohan, director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, said the soon-to-open UCD store is good news for the area.

“It will be a wonderful addition,” Cohan said. “We are continually looking for opportunities to bring the university and downtown closer together, both in formal and informal relationships.”

She said anything that brings UCD students, staff and visitors into the downtown will allow them to see other businesses in the area and perhaps encourage them to return again as customers.

Kratochvil said one of the campus store employees will move over to the downtown store to supervise it, at least in the interim. Other staff also may be reassigned to the new store. Kratochvil said he’s not sure how many new workers will be hired.

UCD-branded merchandise — such as clothing, mugs, key chains, license plate frames and the like — will be the store’s main focus.

“We feel the downtown area would be a good place to market that merchandise,” Kratochvil said.

Embroidery and imprinting services will be available if, for example, a sorority, fraternity or campus club wants its logo added to a UCD shirt.

Aguirre said attire will include both the trendy styles and more conservative pieces that alumni might prefer. Coming soon: a line of clothing featuring historic UCD logos and styles.

‘Campus-grown’

The shop also would carry “campus-grown” items, Kratochvil said. This includes olive oil, olive-based soaps and facial products made from olives harvested from trees on campus. The olive product line started as a way to prevent olives from falling onto the sidewalks, creating a slippery mess and safety hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Campus-grown products also include hand-crafted wooden bowls, utensils, vases and cutting boards made from UCD trees “that required rigorous pruning or removal for health or safety reasons,” according to the bookstore website.

“It’s the ultimate recycling of trees,” Aguirre said.

The wood items are made by artist Barry Hanna, a lifelong Davis resident whose parents — George and Myrna Hanna — were both UCD employees. Barry gained experience in his father’s wood-working shop, built shortly after World War II, and later in classes at the UCD Craft Center.

The store also may carry gift items — for example, a mug with a bicycle logo — that Davis visitors could buy as souvenirs. Aguirre said Carousel Stationery filled this niche before closing in 2008 and she’s unaware of any other downtown shops offering this kind of merchandise. She said UCD Bookstore officials will work with the city on any trademark issues that might exist for producing and selling items with Davis logos.

Shelves also would feature a limited selection of books. Textbooks would not be stocked, but rather, books on viticulture and olives — tied to products the store will sell and areas for which the university is known.

Aguirre said the store would sell the Campus Community Book Project’s selection each year as well as titles from the New York Times bestseller list, but no other general fiction. There are no intentions to compete with area booksellers, she said.

Aguirre said she’s in talks with Clinique about the possibility of adding a small counter or promotional events to sell the brand’s cosmetics, already carried at the campus store. Gottschalks department store was the only other Davis store to carry the Clinique line before closing in 2009.

Some school and office supplies — such as notebooks, copy paper, staples and paper clips — would be available, too. Beverages, snacks, aspirin and a small number of other convenience items also would be sold.

The downtown shop’s merchandise offerings will be adjusted as store officials determine customer demand, Kratochvil and Aguirre said.

Bookstore growth

Kratochvil said a downtown store will provide better accessibility for customers who don’t want to hassle with buying a parking permit or paying for metered parking on campus.

Also, the downtown store will carry new items that the campus store can’t add due to lack of space.

“We also found it very difficult to grow on the UC Davis campus,” Kratochvil said.

He said plans to expand the bookstore on campus are on hold due financial troubles throughout the UC system linked to state budget cuts. Plans call for the 26,000-square-foot store in the Memorial Union to be expanded to 46,000 square feet. A two-story structure would be built on Freeborn Plaza, he said.

Kratochvil said bookstore officials are considering an array of services that could be provided at the downtown shop, such as selling tickets to UCD events.

The UCD athletics department is interested in selling tickets to campus sporting events at the downtown store, but details must still be worked out, said Cindy Spiro, senior associate athletic director.

Rob Tocalino, director of marketing at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UCD, said they have not been approached about the possibility of Mondavi Center tickets being sold at the new store, but “we would be open to it.” He said the center is switching to a new ticketing system, which could make it difficult to sell tickets off-site, but they will soon have a better understanding of the system’s abilities.

Regardless of the exact lineup of merchandise and services, Boschken said he’s pleased with the new tenant.

“I think it is incredible for economic growth in the downtown,” Boschken said. “I’m very happy that UC Davis is in collaboration with the city and private sector coming together to give Davis a tax boon.”

— Reach Sharon Stello at sstello@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8043. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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