Bookstore VIP Night Gives New Students a Warm Welcome to Campus

Starting life as a new student on campus can be a bit overwhelming – between finding classroom locations, making new friends, and settling into dorm life with a roommate.  Some of the most challenging aspects of college life has been made easier by the dedicated team of Barnes & Noble College Bookstore managers through a powerful outreach initiative known as VIP  Night.

These one night events engage new students at the grassroots level, by introducing them to the many resources that the bookstore can offer them during their first semester, as well as throughout their college experience.

With event activities that can include raffles, barbeques, free sampling and live music, BNC VIP Nights provide a warm welcome for all new students who need a helping hand and a friendly smile.

To read about how Southern Connecticut State University’s VIP Night welcomed their new students, click


Tales From The Road: My State Checklist

In my first edition of Tales From The Road, I shared how I came to find myself driving a 24 foot box truck across the country, sleeping in a hotel room every night, and promoting a new product to consumers for 10+ hours a day for THREE MONTHS STRAIGHT as a Brand Ambassador for a nationwide mobile tour.

That first mobile tour was the match that ignited a new personal goal:

Visit all 50 states before the age of 30!

State Checklist Map

I have this map hanging at my desk to keep track of where I have been (yellow states) and where I still need to venture (white states).  For the record, yes, I am aware that Alaska is not located south of California!  With 36 states visited – some for personal travel and the majority for work travel – I thought it would be fun to reminisce on my travel adventures to date.  Below are 5 random states and the first thought that came to mind about my time there!


I was living in Chicago at the time when I was asked to travel to Phoenix for a work trip.  Trade in the -25 degree wind chill of Chicago for sunny and 70 in Phoenix?  Sure, no problem!  And anyone who says the dessert isn’t beautiful is wrong!



It snowed for 3 days straight totaling 36” of fresh powder on the mountain while I was in Breckenridge, CO.  All future snowboarding trips will forever be judged and fail in comparison to this one.



I drove to East Lansing from Chicago in a snow storm (all in a day’s work!) for a work event at a Michigan State basketball game.  Thank goodness they won!  As a Penn State fan, I felt a deep appreciation for the MSU Spartans that night as they took down the Ohio State Buckeyes.



The Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina is home away from home for me.  I have been vacationing there every summer since I was 7 years old.  Not much beats the beaches on the northern part of the island where you can drive your 4×4 vehicle on the sand and get within just a few feet of the wild horses that roam the beach.

North Carolina


Holy heat wave, Batman!  A college football game over Labor Day Weekend in 107 degree weather was no sweat off the backs (pun intended) for Texas Longhorn fans.  They are diehards.  They also drive their burnt orange Cadillacs with grill horns to their tailgates.


The clock is ticking – I have 3 years to touchdown in the remaining 14 states on my checklist in in order to complete my goal!  Time to start planning a trip – which state should be next?

Stay tuned for more Tales from the Road!

kendra ninaltowskiAbout the Author – Kendra Ninaltowski

Kendra is an Account Manager.  She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she majored in Marketing and was a member of the Business Fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.  Before coming to BNCM, she spent three years traveling across the country doing experiential marketing for major brands in the telecommunications and sporting goods industries.   In her spare time she enjoys hiking, biking, snowboarding & DIY projects around the house/making gifts for friends.

Millennial Insights by Marie Policastro

What makes Millennials tick is a subject very near and dear to our hearts at Barnes & Noble College. They really are a fascinating, dynamic generation of young people.

Just like them, our more than 720 campus stores and employees are part of the pulse of college campuses. We live, work, study and play there, too. It’s only natural that we should build and maintain connections with students that last throughout their time in school – and into their new lives as alumni.

We work hard to build relationships with these students and grads. They trust us. They talk to us. They give us honest and open feedback about the behaviors and preferences that drive their daily lives.

One thing we have learned over the last several years is never to jump to easy conclusions about what they want and need. Most recently, we uncovered a few key insights from our students about the way that their generation likes to shop. Today’s college students actually still prefer to do their shopping in store.

Specifically, more than 85 percent of students shop in store for clothing and school supplies.

Another 70 percent shop in store for gifts, school spirit merchandise and technology.

It’s easy to assume, given the environment in which today’s students are growing up, that they would do most of their shopping where they spend a significant amount of time – online. However, they’ve told us loud and clear that in some areas, they’re more traditional. Many still like print textbooks they can hold in their hands. And, they still like to be able to touch and feel the merchandise they’re considering during their shopping experience.

To continue reading Marie’s insights on Millennials as published on Linkedin, click here.

Grammy Winner Jewel Visits Berklee College of Music

Musician, singer, songwriter and actress Jewel recently made an appearance at the Berklee College of Music Performance Center in Boston. The event marked the release of her new album, “Picking Up the Pieces” and her memoir, Never Broken.

Jewel_bookWith only a microphone and an accoustic guitar, Jewel spent the evening revealing stories about her unconventional childhood growing up in Alaska, being homeless in her teens and her rags-to-riches rise in the music industry. She also performed songs, including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Hands,” and two tracks off her new album, “My Father’s Daughter” and “Mercy.”

Nearly 400 people attended the ticketed event, which included a signed copy of her new book, supplied by the Berklee College of Music Bookstore. Fielding questions from the audience, the Grammy Award winning performer reflected on her role as an artist. “I think I always had a writer’s heart,” she said.

Photo: Kayana Szymczak for The Boston Globe


The BNCM team is a dedicated group of marketing professionals who bring a wide range of industry knowledge and job experience to the table. While we are experts in the College Marketing arena, outside of the office we are also a former NCAA gymnast, a mother of twin boys, a fine wine connoisseur, a crafting enthusiast, a former college entrepreneur, and an amateur chef-in-the-making.

This month we got “in the trenches” with Market Research Coordinator for BNC Research, Steve McSpiritt to get his insights on college marketing. Steve McSpiritt_Bio_Photo

What is your role at Barnes & Noble College Marketing? I am the Market Research Coordinator for BNC Research. My job is to determine and examine the latest trends with the college audience and to capture information that our brand partners can use to maximize the impact of their marketing programs with BNCM.

What is your alma mater? Quinnipiac University

What was your major and how did you get to BNCM? I was a marketing major in college. I originally applied for a marketing coordinator position with BNCM, but could not conceal my love for Millennial research.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be an astronaut / astronomical physicist.

What is the best advice you would give brands as they begin planning a marketing program for millennials? When reaching out to the college market, don’t be afraid to try something new. Millennials admire brands that are authentic and offer quality products and services at a great price. It’s better to be original than to try to follow or emulate what other brands are doing with the same audience.

What has been your favorite program to work on at BNCM and why? I especially enjoyed working on research for the new student events we host every year. We continue to find proof that students enjoy attending the programs that we have strategically positioned for our brand partners.

What is your favorite college memory? One of my favorite memories is my Senior Week celebration, which was the week after final exams but before graduation. With all of the pressures and encumbrances of classwork and stress removed, everyone could truly enjoy each other’s company before leaving to begin a new chapter in our lives.

What is your favorite past-time / hobby? Whenever I get the chance, I really love to read – mostly fiction. My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut and I could read his work over and over again.

As a whole, the Barnes & Noble College Marketing team brings a wide range of industry knowledge and job experience to the table. Our ultimate objective is to give our partners direct access to college students, so they can begin to build a successful, long term relationship with their Millennial customers.

Yes, we are the College Marketing experts, but we are so much more!

Millennial Musings

Here at BNCM, we spend our days thinking about all things millennial. As experts in this market, we are able to “cut through the noise”, and focus on the information that is most helpful and relevant to our partners, so that we can help them build strong and lasting relationships with this influential demographic. Along the way, we want to share some of our “Millennial Musings” on the latest news, research and trends to help our partners gain deeper insights into this unique generation.

How the “Selfie” Generation is Redefining What it Means to “Give Back” – Charitable Contributions from the Millennial Generation

Millennials love to take “selfies”, but there is more to this multi-dimensional generation than the photos on their Instagram. While they have grown up during an era of international conflicts and financial instability, they are not discouraged or disheartened. In fact, their desire to make a positive contribution is one of their top priorities. They seek opportunities to help others and give back, whenever possible. At their core, millennials are problem solvers. They feel that they have the resources and the skills to make a difference. They strive to be part of a solution to a better world.

There is no question that today’s leading brands have discovered that their millennial customers are socially aware and prefer to give their business to brands that actively contribute to their local communities and to meaningful, charitable causes. Therefore many brands have begun to execute cause marketing campaigns in order to build greater awareness for the charitable programs that they support, and engage their millennial customers.

While many millennials may be drawn to purchase the products or services of a brand with strong charitable values or donate money to a worthwhile cause, more and more millennials are choosing to give their time and skills, in place of their dollars. While their parents may have been more likely to write a check to their favorite charity, millennials are rolling up their sleeves and reaching deep into their “talent bank” to make their contribution. “We’re finding you still have to activate this group to get on board to do something,” said report author Derrick Feldman, president and founder of Achieve. “Yes, technology is an exciting tool. But to move someone to action still requires a messenger, a message and a purpose.”[i]

Just as experiential marketing can make a lasting personal connection with a millennial customer, volunteering provides the direct personal contact that can create a close bond between the millennial volunteer and the cause they are helping. By using their know-how to do good works, millennials not only build a greater sense of community, but they also develop skills and experience that can later be used on their resume to improve their job search.

The “selfie” generation may, in fact, become known as the most selfless generation – and brands can help them make their philanthropic goals a reality, while building lasting customer relationships.

To read the full article:

[i] Schulte, Brigid. “Millennials Are Actually More Generous than Anybody Realizes.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 June 2015. Web.


MR Disruption Continues: BNC Rolls Out Research Offering

Research platform from Barnes & Noble College now offers access and insights from network of more than 5 million U.S. college students.

In yet another example of the disruption of the traditional market research industry, Barnes & Noble College, a leading operator of campus bookstores with more than 720 stores at college and universities in the U.S., has announced expansion of its market research platform to offer greater access and insights from a network of more than 5 million U.S. college students.

While we have seen many large tech companies roll out research offerings (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, Verizon, TiVO and Salesforce all offer research platforms now), to my knowledge this is the first “Brick and Mortar” retailer to leverage their infrastructure, stores, and customers as a primary research offering. It makes sense for a lot of reasons:

  1. As companies look to monetize their assets in new ways, the business focus silos come down and insight generation, whether through data access, analytical tools, primary research, syndicated research or sample access is a natural extension of their offering.
  2. The “Platform Play” isn’t just for tech companies. Any company that has a substantive role in the daily lives of a population, offline or online, should be looking to extend their usefulness to as many key stakeholders as possible.
  3. In this specific case, expanded research access will help Barnes & Noble College partners – colleges and universities, consumer brands and publishers – better understand the thinking, behaviors and expectations of current and future college students and faculty. Lord knows understanding Millennials and Gen z is crucial on many levels.

Continue Reading… MR Disruption Continues: Barnes & Noble College Rolls Out Research Offering


In my first edition of Tales From The Road, I shared how I came to find myself driving a 24 foot box truck across the country, sleeping in a hotel room every night, and promoting a new product to consumers for 10+ hours a day for THREE MONTHS STRAIGHT as a Brand Ambassador for a nationwide mobile tour.

After sharing, I thought to myself, “I really want to go back out on the road!”

I pitched my plan to management and it was accepted. I found myself booking an eight day trip, later dubbed “The Back to School Southern Campus Tour.” The itinerary which included visiting 6 states, 11 cities, and 29 Barnes & Noble College bookstores was a whirlwind trip which, well, did not always go according to the plan. Being out on the road quickly reminded me of these 4 Road Rules to Live By…

1. Don’t be the antisocial person on the plane

It is easy to board a plane, slide into the window seat, put your headphones on, close your eyes, and never speak to the person who sits down next to you. I get it, planes are awkward, small spaces….but taking up conversation with that person next to us can have its advantages.

On my flight from New Orleans to Atlanta, I began chatting with the woman next to me who was heading to aBrand Ambassador

concert that night. After further conversation I learned she was seeing Luke Bryan (hey, I like Luke Bryan) in Atlanta (hey, I’m staying in Atlanta). As soon as we landed, I went online and bought an $80 floor seat to the concert. I’m coming for ya, Luke!

2. Always read the fine print

It is understandable that your brain can get a little scattered when you try to simultaneously navigate to the next bookstore, check emails on your phone, and stick to a pre-planned schedule while on the road.

That is why when you walk into the parking garage after visiting Barnes & Noble at LSU, you should make sure you read the fine print on the parking ticket tucked under your rental car’s windshield wiper before you spontaneously combust in public.

Photo 2 - LSU Parking TicketYes, you accurately paid for parking. Yes, LSU has a funky ticketing system (they ticket ALL cars and then ask visitors to mail in their reason for visiting campus in order to relinquish parking ticket fines). No, you do not have to pay the parking ticket. But, yes, you do have to mail a letter to LSU explain why you were parked in their parking garage.

3. Be flexible and go with the flow

Just know that when you have a trip planned, something will go wrong. It’s automatic, it’s inevitable. Something will divert you from the plan.

For me, it waPhoto 3 - Hikings realizing on Saturday that the Barnes & Noble College bookstores I planned to visit on Sunday were… CLOSED. What was I going to do?!

After some deep thinking, I revised my plan to visit those stores on Monday morning instead. With no stores to visit on Sunday, I found myself with an impromptu day off, so I figured I might as well go hiking in South Carolina.

4. Ask locals for recommendations

Who knows a city better than the people that live there? No one!

Whenever I travel somewhere, I run through my mental rolodex and reach out to anyone I know has been or has lived in the city I am traveling to in order to ask for recommendations on must sees, must dos, and must eats. A friend of mine originally from New Orleans recommended visiting Parkway Bakery & Tavern for a shrimp po’ boy “dressed.” It turned out to be one of the best meals of the trip!

Photo 4 -


Stay tuned for more Tales from the Road!


College Marketing Account ManagerAbout the Author – Kendra Ninaltowski

Kendra is an Account Manager.  She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she majored in Marketing and was a member of the Business Fraternity Delta Sigma Pi.  Before coming to BNCM, she spent three years traveling across the country doing experiential marketing for major brands in the telecommunications and sporting goods industries.   In her spare time she enjoys hiking, biking, snowboarding & DIY projects around the house/making gifts for friends.