Barnes & Noble to compete for University bookstore bid

Bids for the University bookstore opened Feb. 3, with three vendors responding to the request for proposals.

The contract with current owner, Barnes & Noble, whose successful proposals have retained its management of the bookstore since 1994, will expire at the end of June. Tech is looking to have a new contract by the first of July.

While the proposing vendors remain unnamed at this time, evaluation of the proposals is underway.

“This bid was done in two phases. There are a technical portion and a cost portion,” said Judy Hull, Business Services director.

An evaluation team looks at points from the technical portion, like qualifications and experience, pricing structure, store layout, marketing strategies and student involvement, scoring each vendor based on the potential 70 points. The financial portion of the proposal has yet to be reviewed.

After the proposals are evaluated in the technical portion, the financial portion will open and each vendor will be scored based on proposed revenue. These points will be added to the technical score and the vender with the most total points will win the contract.

“They can’t buy the contract. It’s something where you look at the overall picture,” said Hull.

The technical portion should be completed by Feb. 24, opening the second half of evaluations.

“We have a target date of March 8 for issuing a letter of intent, and that just notifies everybody of the successful proposer,” said Hull. “We have a review period where the other two can come in and look at the scores and files and make sure that they don’t have any issues or anything with the University’s decision.”

The successful bidder will earn a five-year contract to manage and operate the University bookstore. An additional five years could be added based on how successful the vendor is at Tech.

“We left the second five years very flexible. We can do whatever best suits our needs,” said Darla Wilhite, director of auxiliaries and University liaison between the University bookstore and contracted vendors.

Regardless of the winning organization, the University bookstore will sell similar products and remain in the same location in the RUC.