UK bookstore now in its permanent home in the partially opened Student Center

UK Bookstore’s permanent location in the new Student Center opened Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Photo by Rick Childress | Staff

Rick Childress

After years of construction, the UK bookstore moved into its permanent location.

On Tuesday, the UK bookstore opened its new two-story, 33,000-square foot home in the heart of the Student Center.

The store’s opening is a part of the second phase of openings in the Student Center, which will soon also include the food court, social staircase and movie theater among many other spaces. 

Now that the bookstore is centrally located in the new Student Center, store manager David Lang said he feels the bookstore will be of better service to the UK community.

“In the tent before— it served its purpose before this facility was built,” Lang said of the old temporary location on Lexington Avenue. “But we were on the edge of campus and we felt a little removed from the students.”

On the ground floor, customers find a brand new Starbucks location, which seats 70, a Nike store featuring UK-branded apparel and a “Marketplace” which serves as a sort of convenience store.

The rest of the ground floor is general merchandise, Lang said, which features products ranging from UK-themed mugs to UK-themed baby clothes. 

To get to the second floor, visitors can take “the only escalators” on campus.

“We didn’t know that until we put them in,” Lang said.

On the top floor there is a licensed Apple reseller and service store, and most of the general reading books, textbooks and school supplies. 

The Apple Store will sell Macbooks and iPads, and some Dell products. They’re going to carry “everything Apple except for phones,” and they’ll be able to service everything except for phones.

The Barnes and Noble bookstore has added over 21,000 general reading titles, ranging from bestsellers to campus authors. 

In the future there will be a section for works written by members of the UK community, a section for books printed by the University Press and a section on Kentucky authors, Lang said.

Buy back and rental returns for textbooks will be done at the new bookstore at the end of this semester, Lang said.

The tent that served as the bookstore’s temporary home on Lexington Avenue is still standing.

Lang said in a “week or two” the tent will be disassembled. He was unsure of what the space will become, but “I do know they’re going to repurpose it.”

Lang said he thought the food court slated to be in the new Student Center will remain in Bowman’s Den until the end of this semester. The Starbucks in Bowman’s Den and the new Starbucks in the Student Center will both be operating for a short time, but the Bowman’s Den location will eventually close.

Related: A guide to the opening phases of the student center

Students strolling in to check out the new bookstore gave favorable reviews of the store’s aesthetics.

Freshman Paige Maffett said she didn’t expect it to be so “big and spacious,” and the bookstore is better or on par with other impressive university bookstores around the country.

“Mizzou’s bookstore is pretty nice,” Maffett said. “But this one’s definitely one to compete with that.”

Freshman Jessica Abney felt the store had “a college vibe.” She said she thought she’d never have to leave campus to get what she needed.

“We have everything we need up there,” Abney said of the upstairs. “We have dorm supplies and command strips and the marketplace over here— so definitely not.”

With a new Target location slated to open just down the street in the summer of 2019, the bookstore will soon have more competition for the local student market. 

Kennedy’s Wildcat Den, which sat across the street from the Student Center, was also a book and clothing retailer for UK. But in it closed in December after several decades serving UK students. 

With Kennedy’s closed, Lang said the UK bookstore will keep focusing on serving the community. 

Related: Why Kennedy’s closed

“They were a part of UK for a long time,” Lang said of Kennedy’s. “And we’re just trying to do our job and keep providing course materials, gifts and souvenirs for the UK community in our own way, and we’ll just continue to keep focusing on that.”

Much of the center remains under construction. On Tuesday, construction workers seemed to be putting the finishing touches on the social staircase.