New campus store at Odyssey growing, adapting

With students back on campus, the Odyssey Bookshop in the South Hadley Village Commons is finding that sweatshirts, T-shirts and coffee mugs for Mount Holyoke College moms and dads are among the most popular items in the store. So popular, in fact, that some items have been tough to keep in stock.

Joan Grenier, the Odyssey’s owner, said it has been a busy summer, as she and her team began sourcing and ordering what is known as “spiritwear” along with the textbooks it is long used to planning for and stocking.

The Odyssey Bookshop became the official outlet for the College’s spiritwear collection on July 1, following the closing of the Campus Store in Blanchard.

Grenier said the biggest change has been adapting to the fact that with ordering books, deliveries can come in a matter of days or hours. With spiritwear, it can be four to six weeks before an order arrives. And delivery dates for merchandise can vary markedly between companies.

“We’re learning what’s most popular, what sizes sell out most quickly — even what is everyone’s favorite color of blue,” Grenier said. “At the same time, we’ve been pleasantly surprised. People have been buying.”

Another popular seller: “Anything green,” she said, because of the first-year class, the green griffins.

Grenier and her team visited other campus bookstores in the area and around the Commonwealth to learn all they could about what is involved in selling and merchandising spiritwear. The bookstore has a section on the first floor dedicated to all things Mount Holyoke — baseball caps, T-shirts, workout gear, ID holders, pens, car magnets, mugs and canvas bags. Grenier is expecting shipments of sweatshirts, sweatpants, fleece blankets, polo shirts, pajamas and banners to arrive soon.

Grenier has created a feedback link on the Odyssey’s website, and also is establishing an advisory committee comprised of students. “We’re very interested in learning what students want us to stock, and serving the community well,” she said.

Shannon Gurek, the College’s vice president of finance and administration, said the College is in the process of providing for some other convenience items previously sold at the Campus Store.   

“The Odyssey will soon provide a variety of convenience items that students are looking for, based on a recent survey,” Gurek said. “In addition, vending solutions are in process on campus to handle emergency situations and will be available 24/7. We anticipate that the machines will be stocked early next week.”