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WMU to purchase off-campus bookstore

by Cheryl Roland

July 25, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Kalamazoo's University Bookstore.
University Bookstore
KALAMAZOO--Acting at their July 22 meeting, Western Michigan University trustees approved the purchase of a longstanding privately owned bookstore that is surrounded by the WMU campus.

Trustees approved the purchased for $1 million of the land and building that houses the University Bookstore, located at 2529 W. Michigan Ave., near the intersection of West Michigan and Howard Street. The business operation itself will be purchased for an additional $980,000, and the University plans to operate the business at its present location through the fall and possibly for a longer period. The University Bookstore has been in operation at that location since 1958.

"We began discussions with owner Robert Warner about a year ago, when he expressed interest in retiring," says Lowell P. Rinker, WMU's longtime business and finance chief who is retiring soon as well. "This move is perfectly aligned with the board's past practice and the University's commitment to acquiring property that is contiguous to the campus when such parcels become available.

The purchase agreement also calls for the University to take on a three-year lease of 4,560 square feet of warehouse space located at 4155 S. 9th St. to continue operating the University Bookstore's thriving online business. Annual rent for that space will be $20,000.

Owner Warner will stay on and run the bookstore for the University through Oct. 31, after which WMU will take over operations. According to Rinker, WMU is exploring a number of options for the future.

"Our students left campus in the spring knowing the University Bookstore was still operating," Rinker says. "We did not want them to return this fall planning to shop there and discover that is no longer an option. Both WMU and Bob Warner will be working to inform students of the change as they return. Many students, for instance are accustomed to shopping online with the University Bookstore, and we will likely continue that service as part of our on-campus WMU Bookstore operation."