Textbook Brokers beats sales slump with new merchandise

This semester, Textbook Brokers is expanding its merchandise line after its recent move into a new retail space next door to their previous location near the University of Memphis.
The store had previously only sold textbooks at its smaller location at 3548 Walker Ave., where it had been since October of 2008.
“We outgrew our old building next door where we did not even have space for merchandise,” said Textbook Brokers regional director Derrick Gibson. “The new location offers better visibility, it’s a much bigger space obviously, and it’s closer to our competition.”

The additional space allows for an entire floor to be dedicated to selling a variety of University of Memphis Tigers merchandise, including shorts, hats, sweaters, t-shirts, water bottles, decals and more. Over the past few weeks, the store has already enjoyed success from merchandise promotions tied to U. of M. football games.
Selling textbooks, however, remains the primary focus of the business.
“Everything has been changing so rapidly in the textbook industry,” said Gibson. “We have always been a company that has strived to create the best deal for the students so we stock as many used books as possible, but all of the new technology with professors moving to access codes and consumables has forced us to stock a larger percentage of new inventory.”
As a way of combatting used textbook sales, many publishers now provide access codes with new textbooks that give students access to websites, homework databases and test banks from the professors.
The big trend of the past few years is for students to rent their textbooks for the semester instead of buying them new or used, when possible.
“We started renting textbooks in 2012, and it has slowly grown. Now rentals make up 70 percent of our sales,” said Gibson.
The store employs six full-time employees along with seasonal staff.
Gibson hopes to become more involved in the community next year and plans include promoting textbook scholarships for local students as a way of giving back.
Founded in 1997, today there are 60-plus Textbook Brokers franchises nationally, including one other store locally that serves Southwest Community College’s Macon Road campus.
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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.