Bookstore busy all year long

Inside the University Community Centre bookstore early one Friday afternoon, employees stand behind the information desk working on computers. Shoppers meander through the aisles amid the sound of clicking keyboards.

“Jane Doran,” said one of the employees looking around the store, “she’s around here somewhere. She’s always busy.”

“Jane, can you come to the information desk please,” the worker said over the store’s intercom.

Doran is one of two coordinators responsible for the sales floor at The Book Store at Western University. Having worked in retail for 35 years, she knows there is a lot of work to do – even when the store isn’t the busiest place on campus.

“Part of my job is to have employees cross-trained,” Doran said. “I have to make sure that I can fill spots if someone is away or off sick.”

That’s how Doran started her Friday – training to cover for a co-worker for her April vacation.

“I had to learn how to run all the programs that she runs. She looks after all the digital screens around campus.  I had to learn what to do in case something comes up while she’s away, so I can step in and do her work,” said Doran.

The digital screens are located throughout the school’s community centre and are used to promote faculty information as well as the Book Store’s bestsellers.

But for Doran, the training itself was time consuming.

“It’s something you have to do a couple of times. I was there for a couple of hours this morning as well as one day last week. It’s a whole different program that I’ve never worked with before so you have to learn all the little steps,” she said.

Doran is responsible for fitting the training into her already busy schedule.

“Today we had a couple of sick calls, so I had to fill those.  And this afternoon, I’m remerchandising the gift section,” Doran said.

The gift section of the Book Store is another area that Doran looks after. With a new order arriving Thursday night, Doran has to move items around to make room for the new merchandise – another job she has to find time for.

“To me, if you don’t move stuff around, people don’t know it’s there. I run a report every morning to see what’s working. It allows me to know what sold and what didn’t sell so I can base my plan on that,” Doran said.

The Book Store’s sales floor coordinator, Jane Doran.
The Book Store’s sales floor coordinator, Jane Doran.
Photo by Andrew Forbes

“I like to pull people out of their favourite areas. So I might put different science books on a table and that makes people stop and look. Every day I’m moving things.  If you ask anybody, they’ll say ‘Jane’s moving something.’ ”But Doran isn’t the only one who decides where to move products.

“That’s something that we sometimes work on together,” said Nicole Charbonneau, the Book Store’s buyer for supplies and stationery.

“We work together on the placement of products, and we try to use every little space that we can efficiently,” Charbonneau said.

One of the most important parts of the job is to maintain the product levels on the floor, she said.

“You don’t want to sell out of a product, but if it happens you just order it as fast as you can.”

This past Friday marked the end of the Store’s “Freedom to Read” week – meaning Doran has another important decision to make.

“I have to figure out what I’m going to promote next week,” Doran said. “Will it be a new product or a new theme?”

Aside from her decisions on where to move products, Doran is also responsible for other organizational parts of store events such as author talks.

“We had an on-campus event last night that we had to help organize,” Doran said.

The faculty event, which was held at the Social Sciences building on campus, featured author Stacy Wilson-Forsberg talking about her book, Getting Used to the Quiet.

Faculties put events together, but Doran is responsible for ordering copies of the author’s book and making sure there are copies for sale.

“This morning I had to ring the sales through,” said Doran. “I have to also make sure that any copies of the book I have signed by the author are available for the people who didn’t have a chance to buy one at the event.”

Although some people may think it’s a slow time for Book Store employees, it’s these events and decisions that keep them busy, Doran said.

“There’s always something to do.  I even miss my job when I’m on holidays.  I don’t see it as work. It’s something that I’m just passionate about,” she said.

“It’s a community, not just a bookstore.”

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