One won’t have difficulty finding one-stop shopping in Los Angeles. USC students, though, have an especially easy time. They need look no further than the USC Bookstore.
And no time is busier for the USC Bookstore than now, as the back-to-school rush and football season excitement collide.
Accordingly, the USC Bookstore administration has spent the past six months preparing fall product for the towering University Park Campus location.
“Really, our season goes August-September, December-January,” said Daniel Archer, president of USC Bookstores.
New for this peak season are ’SC logo-tees with Marvel Comics superheroes and seemingly conservative sport coats lined in cardinal-colored mesh material, with two gold USC logos embroidered inside.
New clothing has also come in from perennial favorites Nike, Russell and Under Armour, whose design teams approach Bookstore administration with new designs each season.
“We are trying to keep the floor fresh.” Archer said. “When game day comes, you’ve got 90,000 people hanging around this campus. A lot of them come every single year. And if the store’s stale, they won’t buy.”
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Gregg Hiller, a senior majoring in English, admired the new Nike gear — specifically a white Nike Dri-Fit tee with red lettering.
“I’d rather have more of a contemporary design,” Hiller said, approving of the tee’s graphic quality.
Across the sales floor, equally unique products are being added to the home goods and accessories sections — you didn’t know you wanted a USC-engraved wooden cheeseboard until now. Nor did you think you could bring some Trojan shaped red-and-yellow pasta back to the dorm.
One wonders what the bookstore administration doesn’t emblazon with the school logo. Though Archer — out of respect to the many pitches he receives each week — won’t specifically say, he assures the bookstore has high standards for their merchandise.
“There are a lot more products that get rejected than get accepted,” Archer said.
In stark contrast, though, there’s nary a logo in sight on the basement floor.
This is where one can purchase Ray-Ban wayfarers or skin products from Khiel’s.
The ever-changing selection of homeware currently includes faux-vintage picture frames and sturdy, decorative glassware — “touches,” essentially, for the new apartment or dorm room.
The clothing down here is of particular focus among the bookstore administration. Student interest groups and web surveys have indicated higher demand for non-logo apparel, like denim, with affordability in mind.
“I know they wanted more jeans,” Archer said. “[Also] they wanted the price-point of the jeans to be lowered.”
And though the Hudson brand denim available in the store runs upwards of $100, the contemporary brands carried — from Splendid to Brixton — run the price gamut.
But it always comes back to those SC tees. “Attitude” ones like the popular “50-0” tee referencing last fall’s shut-out football game against UCLA still appeals most to buyers.
“Attitude” tees are the unofficial uniform of USC football fans, and the 32 registers during game day, according to Archer, average an astonishing $1,000 a minute.
Prospective student Elaine Wang, visiting from Taiwan with her alumni parents, also enjoyed the tees. She settled, though, on a “creative” red crewneck with ever-popular ’SC wordplay: “Stay in SChool.”
There are also books at the bookstore, of course, including an especially comprehensive cookbook section as well as a faculty authors section.
And after years of ardent demand from students to get the best possible pricing on text books, a book rental program is debuting this fall.
But, in general, college stores nationwide are trending away from the sale of books — it’s not where the money’s at.
“To call it a bookstore doesn’t really make sense anymore,” Archer said.
Perhaps next up at the bookstore is a name change?
Suggestions are welcome. But, no, SChool Store won’t work.