Co-op bookstore up from the basement to serve you better
Labour Day was exactly that for Larissa Dutil, co-manager of the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore. “Because of delays in bookshelf installation, we only started unpacking on Sunday and didn’t finish until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, barely eight hours before re-opening.”
Thanks to Dean of Students Keith Pruden, the Co-op has new space – a storefront location in the K Annex on Bishop St. “He moved mountains for us,” Dutil said.
The new space is bright and airy, a vast improvement over the previous basement location in the Hall Building. Not only was it hard to find, but “our office was six storeys above it, and we had to make copies another floor up.”
All services are now centralized and, despite a significant decrease in square footage, she and the bookstore staff are thrilled with the new set-up. “We have zero storage, but we were able to be creative with our floor plan and really worked at maximizing the space.”
Officially opened in 2002, the Co-op serves a growing segment of the Concordia population. “We have over 900 active members, and more people are signing up all the time. We had 22 more applications today.”
Lifetime membership is $10 for individuals and $100 for groups. Members are entitled to discounts on all products. A number of departments and individual professors now order their texts through the Co-op.
“We also offer an individual order service for students. Over the last three years we’ve managed to develop a sense of which texts will be in high demand and pre-order those so people don’t have to wait.”
Any competition with the Concordia Bookstore is purely friendly, Dutil said. “We view our services as complementary to theirs.”
For instance, while both sell students’ used books, the Co-op works on consignment whereas the Concordia Bookstore buys books outright. If a student is strapped for cash, the Co-op refers them to the Bookstore. “Sometimes it’s really important that people get their money right away, especially at the beginning of the school year.”
With the closing of many local independent booksellers, the Co-op has developed a specialty in the areas of gender and sexuality, sustainability and progressive politics.
“It happened a bit by default, but now we’re one of the few places in the city where you can find these literatures. People often say to me, ‘I can’t believe you have this!’”
It also sells art, T-shirts, zines, DVDs and CDs on consignment, “This is a community service, not just for members,” explained Dutil. “I buy the ‘Future Revolutionary’ baby T for all my pregnant friends.”
In its fourth year of operation, the Co-op has eight employees and is doing very well. “We are pretty much self-sufficient,” said Dutil. Mark-up on products is low, “just enough to cover costs.”
She and co-manager Cybel Chagnon manage extras and upgrades through grants. “We received $5,000 from Emploi-Québec to develop a business plan, and used that document to secure a larger grant from the Société de développement économique Ville Marie.”
The second grant will fund a number of expenses for the new space like shelves and other equipment. While finishing a move in September is hardly ideal, Dutil said her years at the co-op have taught her to go with the flow, “I love it,” she said.
The Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore is located at 2150 Bishop. More information about membership and services can be found on the web site, www.co-opbookstore.ca/