The UWSA announced that Index Bookstore will close at the end of March. For the past three years, the student-run retail outlet served as a coffee shop, bookstore and print shop for the campus community.
“A consistent decline in financial sustainability made it clear to us that closing Index, with intention and thoughtfulness, was the responsible and right thing to do,” the UWSA said in a statement about the closure. “The UWSA is refocusing its finances to continue providing services that will support its membership in diverse ways.”
The UWSA’s 2019 operating budget shows that Index made $184,000 this year, but there was still a $54,440 deficit in revenue.
However, one Index employee says the overall sentiment among the retail staff is that the outlet is doing financially better than in past years.
“It is my understanding that Index is making more coffee sales than it ever has, and we’re actually performing better as a store than we ever have, and this is from very minimal resources that were given (to us),” they say.
The employee, wishing to stay anonymous, thinks Index is advertised poorly around campus and on social media. They also say reworking the business model would have been a more lucrative option than closing Index completely.
“There has been talk before from our previous retail managers of getting rid of the books and trying to go more in the coffee-shop direction,” they say. “But it’s pretty disappointing that the overall sentiment that I’ve been understanding from retail employees is that we are doing better than we ever have, and we are going to close.”
The employee says workers at Index were informed of the closure in January but told not to tell the general public.
“It’s put us in a bit of an uncomfortable position, because people are coming asking some questions about consigning books, and we have to tell them they can come back and consign in April,” they say. “But we know full well that we’re not going to be open. I don’t know why they didn’t announce it sooner.”
The statement from the UWSA says students who have consigned books must pick up their books by March 31, the last day of consignment contracts.
The statement also says their first priority is their employees.
“We are supporting their transition to different positions at the UWSA and are grateful for their enthusiasm and service to Index over the past few years,” it reads.
However, only the student employees returning for the fall semester will be offered employment.
“Even though no one is technically losing their job, we’re not going to have a job from April to September, and even that’s only if you’re a returning student,” the employee says.
“It’s just disappointing that something that is performing better than it ever has and means a lot to the student body and to the university community the UWSA is choosing to give up on,” they say.
The UWSA did not provide further comment on Index’s closure to The Uniter as of publication.
The UWSA-issued statement regarding the closure of Index can be found here: theuwsa.ca/2019/03/a-goodbye-message-from-index/.
Published in Volume 73, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 28, 2019)