Head of independent bookstores group visits SCCC

Now that the start-of-the-semester rush is slowing down a bit, the Saints Bookstore on the SCCC campus continues to explore options to best serve students and the community. A visit from Bob Walton, the CEO of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), provided inspiration. 

“It was an honor to have Bob make the trip here from Texas to see our store,” said Saints Bookstore Director Jerri Lynn Lyddon. “None of the national organization folks have done that before, and we were so excited.”

Walton, whose credentials range from Vice President for Finance and Administration at Vassar to CEO of the Claremont Colleges in California, has spent most of his professional life working at private liberal arts colleges. While the “mini Ivy” schools are elite and admired, Walton had high praise for the work done by community colleges like SCCC. 

“All the schools where I have worked make an intentional effort to broaden their student body and increase diversity,” he said. “They truly believe in contributing to economic mobility. But the real work that changes people’s lives is happening here, at schools like yours.” 

Walton toured the Saints Bookstore in his capacity as NACS head. Through the recently launched Indico branch, the NACS seeks to support independent college outlets like the Saints Bookstore. A collaborative alternative that supports self-operation of campus stores, Indico aims to offer “the best of both worlds and more by combining the operational efficiency, buying power, and strategic guidance promised by a chain operation with the flexibility and brand autonomy of an institutionally operated university store,” the group’s website states. 

“Having Bob stop by our store gave us inspiration and encouragement,” said Lyddon. “We want to reflect our community and serve our students’ needs, and we believe the best way to do that is to be independent of the franchise stores that swallow up the little stores.”  

Lyddon, who serves as Central Trustee on the NACS board, discussed potential expansion options for the bookstore with Walton. These included an interview suit rent-to-buy program launched at other NACS stores around the country, partnership with local businesses, and the possibility of expanded coffee options. 

“We appreciate Bob’s time, and can’t wait to see what our future holds,” said Lyddon, before adding her standard sign-off, “Go, Saints!”

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