The Antelope Bookstore is no more, as the space in the Nebraskan Student Union is being rebranded into the Loper Spirit Shop.
After creating the UNK online bookstore with Akademos, students can purchase their textbooks online, and the university will now oversee the apparel, gifts and merchandise in-house.
With full control over operations, the Loper Spirit Shop hopes to provide a wide variety of options for individuals looking to show their UNK pride.
“We want to provide the options and different levels of clothing,” Director of Business Services Michael Christen said. “We are an Under Armour campus, so we still want to offer those products and have those available, but there’s different tiers of pricing there … Patrons, community members and students are going to see quite a variety of price and selection. We’re really just testing the market to see where the demand is.”
Previously, Barnes and Noble was responsible for both the textbook and general merchandise side of the store.
The new textbook vendor, Akademos, has an entire marketplace available to students, so they can not only see options from their service, but also from stores around the web as well.
“Students can see all the options that are out there and aren’t just limited to an Akademos selection,” Christen said. “We’re seeing a lot of savings by students already and a lot of positive comments on that affordability and transparency.”
Transitioning to the Loper Spirit Shop has brought several new challenges, but the team hasn’t been directionless. UNO already has operations in-house, so they had a readily available source of information at their disposal.
Maintaining the management was also key in having a successful transition and rebranding stage. Current manager, Len Fangmeyer, who has been at the university for around 20 years, and assistant manager Dawn Bickford brought a lot of expertise to the project.
Because the shop will no longer sell textbooks, it only felt natural to say goodbye to the Antelope Bookstore name.
“We had the Antelope Bookstore name there, and we wanted to kind of rebrand that as we had our new UNK online bookstore with Akademos,” Christen said. “We wanted to rebrand into the Loper Spirit Shop to explain a little more to individuals, patrons and community members of what the location really has to offer.”
Affordability has been a key word in the transition to the new Loper Spirit Shop, as the university wants students to be able to show school spirit without feeling like they’re breaking the bank.
“It’s just meeting those needs of our alumni and students,” Christen said. “We want affordability, and we want them to be able to show their school pride. While the merchandise may at times feel like a small part of campus, it’s a big part of our branding. It’s a big part of our marketing to students, the community and just showing that pride throughout the area.”
Coinciding with the shop itself, the university is working on other ways to make its merchandise more accessible to those all around the globe.
“We’re currently working on a website that we hope to have up in the near future that will just enhance that outreach that we’re able to have to our current students, online students and our alumni that are spread throughout the country and world,” Christen said. “At a lot of our sporting events or events that are happening in the community, we’re looking at some options to put us out there where we have alumni and students that are ready to show their pride and purchase some items. We want to meet them where they’re at and not just be located at one spot on campus.”
With the full stock of merchandise and apparel continuing to pour in, the Loper Spirit Shop will be open as students roll onto campus for the fall 2022 semester.