Greek letters and textbooks are now sitting side-by-side at a local Austin bookstore — the first step, its owner hopes, toward becoming student-run.
Ken Jones is in the process of developing his new store, Melissa’s Custom Gifts, under the same roof as his textbook store, Austin TXbooks, on Guadalupe Street. The store will carry customized merchandise representing UT Greek organization chapters.
Jones said he sees a need on campus that he is hoping to fill for a more conveniently located and student-input based Greek store.
After spending years working in the for-profit and sometimes tedious textbook business, he said he now wants to do something fun and lasting that will give back to the UT community that he does business with on a daily basis.
Jones said he will initially try to connect with Greek organizations on campus as their merchandise supplier. From there, he said he wants to offer internships and eventually give the business to the groups that patronize it.
“My whole motivation in this is not to make a lot of money, but to leave a legacy down here on the campus,” he said. “I’ve already done the whole money thing, and this is what I want now, to leave something behind here.”
Jones said he can predict demand for certain products, including clothing for Greek events already printed with the organization’s letters. He said he will also be able to take custom orders for products he doesn’t regularly stock.
Any Occasion is one of the closest Greek stores on campus, located on 28th Street. The store carries sorority-themed merchandise, such as emblems, flasks, key chains, “hot shorts” and bags. Greek and Unique, located at 41st Street and North Lamar Boulevard, also carries Greek merchandise.
Bianca Quintanilla, pre-nursing sophomore and Tri Delta member, said she has seen a need for the store.
“It is going to be convenient because now we do not have to order things online and we can just come here and find what we need, like stuff that has our letters on it,” she said. “There are just not other Greek stores within walking distance.”
Jones said his favorite thing about the new store is that he will get to help some customers in a more positive mood than the ones he sells textbooks to, as he has found book-buying to be a stressful time for many students.
“Everybody hates buying books,” he said. “It is such a headache.”
Jones said he will keep his textbook store going and the Greek store will not negatively affect that business.
Printed on September 5, 2012: "Greek store opens closer to home"