manager of Broad Street Books, says the shop's new cosmetic changes, like
the new bookshelf behind her, are meant
to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore.
New Manager is Booking on a Successful Career at Broad Street
|Q: When were you
hired to manage Broad Street Books and how is it going so far?
A: I was brought on board in the last week of January. It has been an
interesting and eventful month! I have spent this first month learning about
the history of the store and getting to know my staff, as well as getting
acquainted with Wesleyan. Things are going very well so far, and I am
confident that things will continue to get better and better as we move
Q: Please describe the purpose of Broad Street Books.
A: Broad Street Books is a full service bookstore. Our goal is to serve both
the Wesleyan and Middletown community’s needs. Students can find all their
text materials, a wide selection of trade books, basic supply needs, as well
as Wesleyan clothing and gift products.
Q: I hear there has been some changeover at the bookstore.
A: There certainly has been some changeover! In addition to myself, we have
a brand new textbook manager, Ben Brown. Ben had been our textbook
coordinator for the last year and has had an opportunity to learn about the
business from the ground up. Carrie Brochu has also recently come on board
as our general merchandise coordinator. Carrie also comes from Barnes and
Noble and will be involved in building and promoting our apparel and gift
Q: How many employees are there?
A: Our store employs roughly 20 to 25 people at any given time.
Q: What was the purpose of the bookstore’s recent remodeling?
A: The bookstore recently underwent some cosmetic changes. The changes are
meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore, while still
promoting our Wesleyan home. Shoppers will find a redesigned trade book
floor, as well as the addition of display bookcases on our mezzanine level.
We are in the process of redefining the Broad Street “brand.” I believe it
is important that our presentation and selection are reflective of
Wesleyan’s reputation, as well as respectful of the diverse community that
Q: As a manager, do you spend more time behind the scenes or do you get much
time to mingle with customers and staff?
A: I believe that establishing relationships with my staff and with the
community that our store serves is the single most important component to
building our success. Our hours differ from many campus bookstores. We are
open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I
work weekdays and at least one weekend per month and one night per week.
This allows me to interact with all of my staff members, as well as the
different segments of our shopping community.
Q: What are typical job duties as a book store manager?
A: I am involved in all facets of our business. Of course, I am responsible
for ensuring the operational soundness of the business, customer
satisfaction, and sales growth. Currently, two of my main focuses are
increasing awareness of the bookstore through the promotion of unique events
and networking within the Middletown community, and the re-design of our
store website. This will help to provide family, alumni, as well as
prospective students access to Wesleyan apparel and gifts, as well as giving
students additional access to textbooks during the school year.
Q: What are your daily challenges?
A: Learning all the many aspects of a new company can be challenging. There
is something new to confront everyday. However, while I have many friends
who can’t imagine why I have stayed in retail all these years, the answer is
simple. It is never boring. There are always new challenges in creating
something. I find managing similar to directing a play. Somehow you are
constantly engaged in creating the right dynamic both within your staff, as
well as visually to entice your audience, grab their attention. When you
finally get the right combination the results are extraordinary.
Q: What led you to Wesleyan and what type of field were you working in
A: Actually, I was contacted by a recruiter from Follett Higher Education,
the company that runs the bookstore. At that time I was working for Barnes &
Noble in the superstore division. I was immediately excited about the
possibility of working in an atmosphere that promotes learning, growth and
creativity. Previously, I had been an executive team leader for Target
stores specializing in operations and merchandising.
Q: What is Follett Higher Education Group and what is the relationship with
A: Follett Higher Education Group is the company contracted by Wesleyan to
operate the bookstore. Follett operates over 700 bookstores at college
campuses across the United States, as well as in Canada. Follett’s resources
provide the store access to many text materials, in particular, a variety of
used text titles to help ease costs for students.
Q: What is your favorite book section at Broad Street and why?
A: I’m not sure that I have a favorite section. I am quite intrigued by our
faculty author sections. I find it fascinating what people are captivated
by, and what they choose to write about. The same held true when I worked
for Barnes & Noble. I was always interested in the local authors who came
in. There are so many wonderful books published by smaller presses that
simply don’t have the capital to promote them as vigorously as the larger
publishing houses. I also love the children’s section.
Q: Do you enjoy reading, yourself? What are your other hobbies and
A: I do enjoy reading. You would be most apt to find me with a biography or
history book. I have many interests! I have been engaged in a genealogy
project for over a year. It has been an extremely rewarding and fascinating
experience. It certainly gives history a new face. I also enjoy music. I
play the tenor saxophone and flute. And then there’s going to the theater,
tennis and I am determined to learn to golf this year.
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family. My life
partner, Melissa, is a trainer with the Hartford Insurance Company. My 15
year old son, Chris, is the best part of everyday. We enjoy doing all kinds
of things together. The beach, musicals, museums, and Red Sox games are some
of our favorite things to do.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to say to your new Broad Street customers?
A: I am always available and open to new ideas. I am excited about the
coming months and thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a
thriving campus. Please come visit!
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection