New Fairfield University Bookstore opens downtown to much fanfare



Image: Bookstore openingThe new Fairfield University Bookstore officially opened its doors today, welcoming patrons with a host of entertaining performances, activities, giveaways and discounts that will continue through Sunday, Nov. 6. Area residents are welcome to join the fun at the bookstore's new location in the heart of Fairfield at 1499 Post Road - the former site of Border's Books.

"One of our aspirations as a University is to serve our friends and neighbors as a center for learning, cultural enrichment and the fostering of conversation and community," said University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. "With this bookstore, we believe we have begun a new and exciting chapter in those efforts."

Among those at the ceremony were: Joe Skaggs, vice president of marketing and business continuity, Follett Higher Education Group, Fairfield's partner in the bookstore; Vivien Hunnicutt, district manager for Starbucks Coffee Company, which will oversee the bookstore café beginning early in 2012; Ken Kleban, Kleban Properties, which owns the building; and Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau. Many praised the University for breathing new life into the 23,500-square-foot retail space.

"This is a small step for Fairfield University, but - with their help - it is a great leap for the Town of Fairfield," Kleban said.

Customers flooded the store, browsing through bestsellers and children's titles, stopping for a quick bite at the café and checking out top-flight technology in the interactive computer department. Weekend activities include: appearances by the Fairfield University dance and cheer squads and the Stag mascot; children's crafts and storytime; a zumba demonstration; an evening reading with award-winning author Michael White, Ph.D., director of the University's MFA in Creative Writing Program; a George Gershwin piano concert with Orin Grossman, Ph.D., professor of visual and performing arts; and an art and culture lecture by Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., also a professor of visual and performing arts.

Fr. von Arx said the new bookstore provides the University with another way to be of service to the greater community and to attract its own students to Fairfield's lively downtown. "The bookstore will undoubtedly be filled with a lot of life: authors doing readings, students performing, the University community showing their artwork and faculty members lecturing on topical issues," he said.

The store features bestsellers, general interest titles, a large children's section, Vera Bradley® products and gifts. In the interactive computer department, customers can try out the latest HP® and Acer® computers, Iconia tablets and the full Kindle® line of e-reader products. A headphone listening station allows customers to test out SkullCandy® and Beats® headphones by plugging in their MP3 player or mobile device and a camera station features digital and video equipment.

The store also carries emblematic apparel from the University and Fairfield Prep. (Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde and Notre Dame high school products are coming soon.) A community gathering area on the 2nd floor will offer a variety of programs and activities.

The store's café will double as a gathering spot, offering coffee drinks, tea, soups, salads and deli items. Early in 2012, Starbucks will move into the spot, which has a projected capacity of about 50 seats and anticipated outdoor seating. In the meantime, Sodexo, the University's dining services operator, will manage the café.

Hunnicutt said Starbucks' new partnership with Fairfield makes perfect sense. "Starbucks and Fairfield are about community," she said. "Both organizations are committed to being good neighbors and responsible citizens."

The University is leasing the Post Road space from Kleban Properties, and Follett High Education Group, which manages more than 930 college and university bookstores across North America, is the University's partner in the initiative.

The Fairfield University Bookstore hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. For more information on the bookstore and its grand opening weekend programming, visit www.fairfield.bkstr.com.

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Posted on November 4, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 109