By ERIC MCKENZIE
Conestoga’s bookstore is keeping current and competitive.
Mandatory course materials, such as course packages and textbooks costing between $500 and $1,000, have created a stigma that products at the bookstore are overpriced.
Promotional manager of the bookstore, Quinn Battersby, said although the bookstore has no control over the pricing of course materials, his staff make an effort to find competitive pricing on all other supplies which are comparable to big chains such as Staples and Office Depot.
“Comparatively, a three-inch crested Conestoga binder is actually cheaper here than the regular three-inch binders at Staples,” said Battersby.
These competitive prices for extra supplies will help students afford their textbooks, especially after the $150 per year technology and textbook grant received by all full-time students on OSAP was cut by the Liberal government to make way for the 30 per cent student rebate, which only about half of the college population is eligible for.
Other economically priced items the bookstore has in-stock include Conestoga clothing, pens, lined paper, markers and pencil crayons, as well as electronics, such as USB sticks, SD cards and Skullcandy headphones. They also sell program specific materials, such as vellum paper for engineering students and Bainbridge board for design students.
“We try to keep our products as relevant as possible for students – we know that they like that,” said Battersby.
An online promotion that enters students who buy supplies in a draw to win gift cards to stores and restaurants, such as Best Buy and Kelsey’s, is a further motivator for students to shop at the bookstore.
Battersby said accessories, such as iPod or Blackberry cases, iPad cables and Dr. Dre Beats headphones, are being considered for sale in the near future.
Aside from the extra products, when 100 students were asked about the purchase of their course materials the feedback was generally good. A total of 58 students had all of their books, 32 had some of them and 10 had none of them.
“I can only afford to buy the textbooks I’m going to use regularly in class. Books used once or twice in a course I look elsewhere for,” said Zach Harvey, a first-year videography and documentary student.
The poll also found that of the 58 students who had all of their course materials, 20 had used the bookstore online website to reserve their purchases.
The online reservation helps students avoid lines during busy periods in September and January and allows them to pick up their materials within two days for a $5 fee.
The bookstore also offers a delivery service to Conestoga’s residence.
“It’s a very positive environment. We feel the students are very happy with the help that they are getting and the expertise we are giving them,” said Vi Friend, a bookstore service staff member.