New WKU Store opens on Nashville Road

Melvin Baldwin, a participant in Veterans Upward Bound at WKU, browses hats at the new WKU Store on Nashville Road. Baldwin, an Air Force veteran, is taking courses to learn how to use computers. “When I graduated, we didn’t have computers,” he said.

Michael McKay

It’s Friday afternoon at the Nashville Road location of the WKU Store and everyone is busy.

The sound of vacuum cleaners hitting dust and the chatter of store employees spreads throughout the store and fills the storefront as they prepare for the opening, which was Monday.

The Nashville Road location of the store is part of the Downing University Center’s $47 million renovation.

After commencement, the DUC location of the bookstore will be moved up the hill to the Garrett Conference Center Ballroom. The Nashville Road location is a temporary addition, at least for a year-and-a-half.

Jim Sears, assistant director of operations for the store, said the original goal of the Nashville Road location was a space for a stockroom.

“Up in Garrett we don’t have space for a stockroom,” Sears said. “So this was going to be our receiving area. But we were thinking, ‘We’re going to have a really good storefront, and we’re losing all of our in-town shoppers because parking will be such an issue at Garrett.’”

Sears said it was decided that half of the Nashville Road location would be a storefront, and the other half would act as a stockroom for both stores.

The Nashville Road bookstore has a similar look to its DUC counterpart. The hooks that hold racks of WKU-branded clothing were taken from DUC, and the paint and carpet colors make the new location feel familiar.

Sears said some things might change like merchandise depending on the reception to the store.

He said merchandise at the Garrett location would appeal more to students, while the Nashville Road location plans to appeal to people in the community.

“A perfect example would be a Tervis Tumbler,” he said holding up the cup.

“They’re cool, and they sell really well,” he said. “A student is going to have a hard time paying $17 for it. Somebody in town is more likely to be able to buy it.”

It’s the opening day, and cars are beginning to fill up the parking lot.

Megan Stephens, a December graduate, was working at the counter at 10 a.m. when the store opened.

Stephens said most of the people have been older so far. She said she hasn’t been asking people where they were from, but traffic has been pretty steady.

The bookstore was giving out red towels for people who bought things opening day.

Linda Todd, an associate professor of Professional Studies, went to the new bookstore to buy two red towels.

“I’m fixing to go to a convention in Boston, and hopefully we can have our picture made with our red towels,” Todd said.

Todd works at South Campus, right next to the Nashville Road store. She said she hoped the new store would last there forever.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “People in the community are excited about it too.”

An official grand opening of the Nashville Road location has yet to be announced.