'Fairfield University Bookstore' to fill void left in downtown

'Fairfield University Bookstore' to fill void left in downtown

Image: Fr von Arx When Borders Books & Music Store closed its Post Road location in Fairfield, the decision was felt deeply throughout the community.

Today, officials from Fairfield University announced that a new bookstore will open in the prime, anchor store site, located at 1499 Post Road, one complete with the advantages and resources consumers expect from a premier retail bookstore, and more.

View the announcement ( full press conference ).

The general-purpose bookstore, to be named the 'Fairfield University Bookstore,' is anticipated to open in early October. Featuring titles from bestseller lists, gifts, and accessories, it will also sell athletic wear and emblematic items of Fairfield University and regional high schools, including Fairfield Prep, Fairfield Ludlowe High School and Fairfield Warde High School. Located in the heart of Fairfield, the store will serve not only the needs of the university community but also the greater Town of Fairfield and regional communities. It will also serve as a place for the university to offer its resources and educational programs to the regional community in a downtown setting.

"We are delighted to have been given this opportunity to bring a full-scale bookstore and cafe back to the center of the Town of Fairfield," said Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. "It is our hope that the store will serve as a meeting place and a destination for residents and guests. We are planning to use the store to house some of our programming - lectures from scholars and author readings and other small cultural events - and it is our anticipation that by opening a Fairfield University Bookstore downtown, we will bring the intellectual and cultural life of our university more fully into the heart of the community."

The university is in negotiations with an internationally known coffeehouse retailer to open a coffee shop and café with a projected capacity of about 50 seats inside the store. There is also the possibility of additional sidewalk seating. Negotiations are also underway for the store to feature the presence of an industry leading computer provider.

The 23,500 square foot site has long been a vital location in the retail community. For many years, it was occupied by The Fairfield Store, a family-owned department store which opened in 1921 and remained at the site until 1996. Borders opened its doors in July of 2001.

Image: Fairfield bookstore press conference

Michael Tetreau, First Selectman of Fairfield, said the new bookstore was a statement about the economic vitality of the community. "I'm thrilled with the university coming to downtown Fairfield and the strengthening of our bond," he said.

The university's partner in the initiative, Follett Higher Education Group (FHEG), will operate the new store. FHEG, which now manages more than 900 college and university bookstores across North America, has managed Fairfield University campus store operations since 1964. University students will be able to purchase textbooks for courses and other study supplies at the new site, although Follett will maintain a small campus presence as well.

In a statement, Thomas Christopher, president of the Oak Brook, Illinois-based Follett, said: "We're extremely excited to bring our experiences with community stores to Fairfield University. The Fairfield community has been wonderful to Follett, and we're eager to bring the very best in community stores to the patrons of the area. We're thankful for the opportunity to have a great role in serving Fairfield, and look forward to making this a destination for all."

The Post Road space is currently occupied by Book Warehouse and The Taj Café. The university will be leasing the space from Kleban Holding Company, LLC. Al Kleban called the venture "one of the most important happenings this town has ever experienced." "This opportunity will inject an intellectually stimulating and exciting component into the center of Fairfield ... Fairfield University has done so much for this town."

George Szondy, first vice chair of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, agreed, noting it will have a positive impact on downtown vendors. "We're delighted to welcome Fairfield University as our newest downtown merchant ... Welcome Stags."

Image: Fairfield bookstore press conference There are many examples across the country of colleges and universities locating their bookstores in their local communities, and Fairfield is pleased to join these ranks. The store is modeled after the Hammes Bookstore and Café on Eddy Street in South Bend, Indiana, just off the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

James Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of Administration and Student Affairs, called it a "big day for the university." "This is a positive project that so many of us were passionate about and got behind from the start."

University officials see the shop as a meeting place for students and residents alike.

"The new Fairfield University Bookstore provides us with another opportunity to be of service to our neighbors, and will, I believe, serve us all," said Fr. von Arx. "We need bookstores, and we need the conversations with our friends and encounters with ideas that only a good bookstore - and a cup of great coffee - can really facilitate. So we at Fairfield University are delighted to be able to work with our partners to make this bookstore a reality, and we look forward to working with the town of Fairfield to help make the store a truly life-enhancing institution for all of us."

Images: top) Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., Fairfield University President, spoke of the Fairfield University Bookstore opening in October. Featuring titles from bestseller lists, gifts, and accessories, it will also sell emblematic items of the university and regional high schools, including Fairfield Prep, Fairfield Ludlowe High School and Fairfield Warde High School; bottom) The 23,500 square foot site has long been a vital location in the retail community. Pictured are university officials with Town of Fairfield officials and local business leaders who praised the project.

Posted On: 07-06-2011 11:07 AM

Volume: 44 Number: 1