SOU Bookstore Sales Proposal in the Works

The Request for Proposals Committee is currently finishing the first version of the sales proposal for the Southern Oregon University bookstore. The preliminary proposal will be finished and available to the public on Nov. 27, with a projected start date for the contract of June 1, 2014.

With Southern Oregon University likely facing retrenchment, the school is trying to find ways to pay for its $4 million debt. Suggested budget plans include the sale of the bookstore to make up for $1 million of that sum.

“The bookstore is a low hanging fruit,” says Dylan Bloom, Director of Governmental Affairs at the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University. Bloom is also a member of the Request for Proposals Committee, which was created to make a sales proposal for the bookstore.

After the public release of the sale proposal to the on Nov. 27, students, staff, and faculty will have until Dec. 11 to voice concerns and comments. The Request for Proposals Committee will take feedback into consideration, and will change facets of the sale proposal as they see fit.

Potential buyers can then examine the proposal and ask questions clarifying certain aspects and their specificity until Jan. 8. After that, buyers will be able to submit offers until Jan. 22. The offers have to meet the proposal’s specifications, and buyers cannot suggest changes to the proposal at any point during the process.

“The committee has a lot of power [over the terms of the proposal],… [and even] could terminate the proposal at any time,” says Drew Koch, Environmental Affairs Senator for the ASSOU and member of the Request for Proposals Committee.

Then from Feb. 10-14 the committee will have potential buyers show presentations of their offers. This step in the process is optional. If there is clearly one offer that stands above the rest, the committee will take it without presentations. There are then seven calendar days in which students, staff, and faculty can comment and voice concerns about the buyer’s offer.

A company has yet to officially step forward, according to Bloom. He and Koch did speculate that Follett, the company that bought the Oregon Institute of Technology’s bookstore, and Barnes and Nobles Inc. would most likely be interested.

Changes in the bookstore in staff and services are possible after the sale. As the proposal stands, the current staff members of the bookstore are to be kept employed for six months after the sale, and then the new owner will be able to make decisions in regards to staffing. The Apple, Inc. store, which is contracted through the bookstore will not transfer over to the new owner.

Students should be aware that the debt of unpaid books charged to student accounts would transfer to the company purchasing the bookstore, which will then collect upon that debt. There will also be an increase in the percentage of the income that goes from the bookstore directly to the school, ranging from 7.75 percent to 10 percent. However, prospective buyers will still have some power in how the income is presented due to compartmentalizing of merchandise and income percentages within them, which may minimalize the percentage of increase.

In terms of book prices, the proposal states that they cannot be sold at higher than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Upon sale of the bookstore, a committee of students and faculty will be formed that will watch and assess the new store owner’s price changes throughout their ownership and will be able to dictate, within reason, what prices can be. This committee will meet regularly to make sure prices are reasonable and fair to students.