For most students, the semester begins with sore feet and an empty wallet as they stand in long lines at local bookstores waiting to get the reading material they will need throughout the semester.
With each student needing books and often having to drop hundreds of dollars to get them, it is little wonder that stores catering to the reading needs of students are among the most lucrative Huntsville businesses.
However, since students typically only buy books once a semester, university bookstores must turn to other products to make money after the early semester rush.
Jesse Nelson, store manager of the Barnes and Noble University Bookstore located in the Lowman Student Center, said he agrees most of the store’s profits do come from textbook sales at the beginning of the semester.
Nelson estimated that anywhere from half to two thirds of his store’s semester profits come from sales made during the first two weeks of each semester.
As for the rest of the semester, Nelson said business begins to shift toward sales of other popular items, including clothing and school supplies.
Nelson said that as the weather begins to change during the spring semester, students look to update their warm weather wardrobe. As a result, sales of clothing bearing the SHSU logo become some of the biggest profit makers.
A manager at Bearkat Books said he believes his stores have a more entrepreneurial approach to compensating for lagging book sales after the initial boom.
Bearkat Books offers two locations for area students. One, located at 1108 16th St., offers the clothing and school supplies such as those found at other area bookstores in Huntsville. However, its second store, found at 2223 Avenue J., offers these things also, but in addition has a tanning salon to help students stay golden brown year-round.
In addition to supplies and clothes, local stores also offer other products that help to bolster sales throughout the semester.
Managers said items including graduation supplies, such as caps and gowns, provide extra end of the semester profits. Bookstores also sell collegiate rings that symbolize the nearing graduation for many seniors.
Kampus Korner Bookstore was unavailable for comment at press time.