Wildcat Store adapts during 1st year of outsourced management

Wildcat Store employees Ruben Ruiz, a first-year sociology major, and Victoria Diaz, a sophomore sociology major, get ready for the end-of-semester book return rush. Photo credit: Michael Arias

Last year, the Chico State Wildcat Store was signed off on a five-year lease to Follett, a private corporation based in Illinois, from the Associated Students.

A financial move to help save money, the A.S. outsourced the running of the Wildcat Store starting on July 1. Many have since taken interest in the impact Follett would have on campus.

In recent Academic Senate meetings, questions have been raised regarding the switch in management.

Wildcat Store staff members were no longer be A.S. employees, deeming them ineligible for university benefits, said Annette Heileson, chair of the Staff Council.

“Now that they’re not A.S. employees, that completely changes their benefits structure with retirement and health insurance,” Heileson said.

Follett offers a benefit package of its own, which includes health insurance as well as a retirement plan for full-time staff only, said Sarah Foisy, Wildcat Store director.

“Follett also has a strong values system it asks all staff to live by and offers training in leadership topics, which all associates can take advantage of,” Foisy said.

Another concern with Follett’s takeover involved the buying power of local products under the new management.

The Wildcat Store is still committed to delivering a fresh product assortment that meets the needs and preferences of the community, Foisy said.

“We have worked closely with the A.S. to continue carrying popular products from local businesses, such as Klean Kanteen, Chico Bag, Helen’s Donuts, Brooklyn Bagels and Great State Coffee from Naked Lounge,” Foisy said.

With Follett now in control, Foisy said the Wildcat Store has been able to increase savings for students.

“We have also successfully increased our rental and digital assortments to further drive savings,” she said. “In the last year, we’ve saved students more than $270,000 through rentals.”

In preparation for next semester, the Wildcat Store is focused on increasing faculty text orders to provide students hassle-free access to the right book at the right time and price, Foisy said.

Mikey Arias can be reached at [email protected] or @mikey_arias on Twitter.