The Portland State Bookstore was named Most Valuable Player by the Independent College Bookstore Association in February. The award was based on the bookstore’s operating costs and overall earnings over the past five years. The PSU Bookstore won the award because of overall sales, total book sales, used book sales, technology product sales, insignia product sales and overall profit growth, according to Ken Brown, president and CEO of the PSU Bookstore.
The Portland State Bookstore was named Most Valuable Player by the Independent College Bookstore Association in February. The award was based on the bookstore’s operating costs and overall earnings over the past five years.
The PSU Bookstore won the award because of overall sales, total book sales, used book sales, technology product sales, insignia product sales and overall profit growth, according to Ken Brown, president and CEO of the PSU Bookstore. The bookstore’s management team, staff performance and its exceptional expense management were also recognized.
“We run very efficiently,” Brown said. “It’s the management team and the way that we work. We work very hard.”
The Independent College Bookstore Association is a retail cooperative of independent college bookstores and institutional college bookstores. The PSU Bookstore is independent from Portland State, and in 2005, became a non-profit organization.
“We’re able to take on big projects and run effectively,” he said. “We’re doing it well and we’re doing it right.”
According to Brown, some of the growth in the bookstore is partially a result of enrollment growth in the last few years.
“The more students there are, the more we are going to sell,” he said.
As a non-profit, the bookstore can more easily serve the students and provide them with services, such as the PSU Bookstore Scholarship program, according to Brown. The bookstore’s scholarship program awards around $40,000 in scholarships for books to students each year.
The PSU Bookstore awarded 122 scholarships (a total of $35,000) this year, and will award around 160 (a total of $40,000) in the coming academic year.
“It’s a big deal,” Brown said. “Going non-profit has totally shifted the equation.”
Non-profit status provides the bookstore with tax savings, lower insurance rates and different banking rates. The resulting savings are redistributed into programs, which serve students.
This year alone, the bookstore has saved about $30,000 by negotiating favorable terms with their bank for the amount they are charged for running credit cards. The bookstore is expecting to save an additional $40,000 after negotiating property tax abatement with the city, according to Brown.
“We’re doing a lot,” he said, adding that bookstore members can receive discounts and a variety of other benefits.
The bookstore’s savings also go toward its sponsorship of PSU Weekend, a social event and entertainment weekend in October also sponsored by the Alumni Association. The savings also make it possible for the bookstore to award scholarships each academic year.
Brown said that he is happy for the bookstore to receive external recognition from a relatively large peer group (the bookstore association).
“It means a lot to everybody that works here,” he said, adding that the award is especially meaningful because the bookstore is just coming out of debt from moving into a new building on Southwest Fifth Avenue five years ago.
“We went from a loss of $103,000 five years ago,” Brown said. “We’ve built our financial integrity up.”
The bookstore plans to expand the scholarship program so it can award more money each year.
“We’ve got a couple of interesting years coming,” said Brown.
A new computer system, new register system, and website integration will help the bookstore advance further in coming years, Brown said. The website will have more merchandise available online, making the purchasing process easier for students, and improving international sales.
A new computer system will make it possible for faculty to access a database of past course materials that they have used, Brown said, and the new register system will make lines move faster.