With the motto “Everything 10 percent cheaper,” Dominion Bookstore tries to compete with the official Old Dominion University store and for now, the battle is going quite well.
Located in a small commercial center on 47 West Street in the middle of ODU’s campus. The store sells textbooks, clothing, and school supplies. Unlike the ODU official store, this shop is part of Nebraska Book Company, Inc. and has no affiliation with the university.
If there is a textbook store on campus, why open another business with the same purpose? “Most schools of ODU size can support two bookstores. Having two bookstores is good for the students,” said Noel Fawcett, store manager. “Having two stores gives students the opportunity to find the best price for books and spend as little as possible in school supplies,” Fawcett added.
Dominion Bookstore carries only books assigned by ODU faculty, and they sell these books at least ten percent cheaper than the other store. “We have to compete with a store that has the back of the school,” Fawcett said, “so if we want to compete we have to offer something else.” Unlike the ODU official store, Dominion Bookstore also offers the option of renting all books, not just some of them. Little things like these can make a big difference in business.
However, Dominion Bookstore is at a disadvantage because many people are unaware of its existence. “For example, freshmen will go to the other bookstore at orientation, because it’s part of the school. Even Leo Online connects to that store,” said Fawcett. So Dominion Bookstore discounts textbooks and school supplies. If costumers find books cheaper at a different store, Dominion Bookstore will match that price. “I heard Dominion Bookstore was cheaper from some friends,” said ODU student Gabby Solomon, “the official bookstore charges too much, usually.”
Fawcett has planned for next fall to use social media, like Facebook and Twitter to increase his story’s presence. “I think the best way to reach students is through social media. Nowadays that is the way to reach the public, “said Gabriele Veltre, student at ODU.
Unlike Dominion Bookstore, the ODU official store allows students to pay for books using their financial aid money. Since Dominion Bookstore isn’t affiliated with the university, it has no access to this money. “We are trying to find a way to offer students a way where they can get an account here and then, when their financial aid comes in, they can pay back,” said Fawcett.
For a store whose income is mainly based on the sale of books, remaining profitable during the semester is not easy. “This time of the year is very slow, but we know that’s going to happen,” said Fawcett. “Our big sale is at the beginning of the semester, then everything slows down.” However, the growth of ODU’s prominence in the commonwealth of Virginia and nationally has led to a significant increase in the sale of clothes with the ODU logo. “During the fall when we’re not selling books, we can make $2000 on a football weekend,” said Fawcett.
Dominion Bookstore has more than one competitor. With the increase of the use of technology and Internet book sales, both stores have a new competition and its name is Amazon. “Amazon is probably the biggest competitor for both stores. Amazon is the hardest competition,” Fawcett said, “If it was just these two stores, we both would make enough money to be satisfied.” To address this problem, Dominion Bookstore has begun to offer eBooks, and Fawcett said they plan to offer more eBooks in the near future, which will also cut costs for the store.
Most employees here are ODU students, which helps the store’s visibility. “I have students that go to class and the professor has forgotten to order the book,” said Fawcett, “then the student comes to me and tells me the book his or her professor needs and I order it.”
“Dominion Bookstore is a lot cheaper than the other store,” said Catherine Tyler, ODU student and Dominion Bookstore employee. “As a student I like the variety of clothes that this store offers, and it’s also closer to campus.”
Fawcett hopes that eventually, the store becomes more popular among students, “ODU is an expanding college, and my company and I see a way of Growing with the school.”
By Marta Quero Vara de Rey