Graphic by Dakota Cox
Graphic by Dakota Cox

HSU Bookstore Being Moved Off-Campus

Humboldt State's bookstore is getting relocated to Pacific Outfitters's former downtown Arcata spot
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It’s five minutes until your class starts in Founder’s Hall. You have a big test that you forgot a scantron for and you are rushing. But then you remember — the HSU bookstore is right on the way to Founder’s Hall and carries scantrons, among other things.

But then you wake up and realize it was all a dream and the bookstore is nowhere to be found on campus. It is fall of 2021 and you, like many other students, are left without a centralized location to grab school supplies and attire. Come July, this will be the reality for Humboldt State. The university has been cleared to move its bookstore to a new location adjacent to the Arcata Plaza.

Anisa Benamira-Dod is a student frustrated with the decision to move the bookstore off-campus. A junior communication major, she is concerned that the bookstore’s on-campus absence will impact students in more ways than one. More specifically, she is concerned that students will not be able to access the bookstore as easily due to its vicinity.

I know a lot of people that don’t have cars. And so walking from Creekview all the way down to Arcata — the Arcata Plaza — it would just make it a day trip,” Benamira-Dod said. “Not many people would want to go to the bookstore just for like a few books or something like that if they don’t have a car.”

While it is great to appeal to the off-campus community, Benamira-Dod feels that a separation will occur.

“It’s starting to create a distance between like people who live on campus and people who live off campus,” Benamira-Dod said.

Aaron Ostrom is the founder and co-owner of Pacific Outfitters, a retail chain in Humboldt County with locations in Arcata, Eureka, and Ukiah. The Arcata location will be the future home of the HSU bookstore. For him, it wasn’t sustainable to continue on with his Arcata store due to a number of factors.

When COVID shut everything down last year, Arcata, in his words, turned into a “ghost town.” It wasn’t just the town itself that got shut down. Shipping and manufacturing also got shut down and that really threw a wrench into everything. Faced with this adversity, Ostrom decided that he could turn his Arcata branch into a warehouse for the other two stores that were deemed essential, unlike the Arcata location.

But then the Arcata store ran out of merchandise. Between that and Humboldt State limiting the number of students on campus, things were not looking good.

“It was hard to really justify investing in a bunch of inventory to fill a store back up,” Ostrom said. “I gotta pay the bill for all those goods in like 60 days after making that investment.”

When HSU came knocking inquiring about the vacant space, Ostrom answered the call with open arms. Now Humboldt State will rent the former Pacific Outfitters location from the local chain. Ostrom is glad to have a local institution taking the place of his old store and feels that there are economic benefits to be gained for both sides in this deal.

“Every single day, we would get people asking about HSU gear and HSU students, of course, showing up, HSU students bring their families, Ostrom said. “So, I think having a bookstore in town will be great for HSU merchandise that they want to sell.”

Todd Larsen is the director of housing operations and one of the main individuals involved in the bookstore’s relocation to downtown Arcata. From his perspective, there are a few key reasons behind the shift.

“Students have been asking us for more student activity space, student lounge space, and creating a student center which we don’t have, as you know, on campus,” Larsen said. “It’s giving the bookstore more accessibility. Two-thirds of our students live off campus and also parking — people that come to campus here they can’t even get to the bookstore right in a normal year there’s no parking.”

Larsen and his team plan to turn the bookstore’s old space into a recreational space.

“We’re looking at an opportunity to maybe bring in Stars restaurant in the old Windows space,” Larsen said. “And really just providing a lot of fun and a central place on campus where students can go. And we don’t have that now and it’s hurting us.”

HSU students will be able to buy Scantrons at the College Creek Marketplace in addition to the off-campus new bookstore. Additonal items are being considered for the Marketplace, too.

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