|Davidson Plans to Serve Fans Better with New Main Street “Spirit Shop”
June 10, 2009
Contact: Bill Giduz, 704-894-2244
Davidson College has signed a one-year lease for an unoccupied storefront in the town's central business district, and plans to operate it as a "school spirit" shop beginning in August.
The building at 131 North Main Street was previously a retail outlet and museum for collectible figurines sold by Cairn Studios. The offerings included gnomes crafted by building owner and sculptor Tom Clark, a Davidson College religion professor from 1958 to 1985. While college logo clothing and souvenirs will be sold on the first floor of the new store, the second floor will be maintained as a museum of Clark's gnomes.
David Holthouser, Davidson's director of physical plant, said the new spirit shop, which has yet to be named, will give the college an additional and highly visible retail sales presence in town.
The college's existing bookstore will continue to operate in the Alvarez College Union, where it has been located since that building opened in 2001. The Alvarez facility has 3,750 square feet of retail space, and the new shop will be 1,500 square feet. Gwen Gardner, manager of the college bookstore, said, "We've been very happy with sales at the Alvarez Union bookstore, but many people who come to town don't ever find us. We're hoping that the Main Street location will open up a whole new market for us from people passing through town."
The new location will not offer the textbooks and office supplies found in the Alvarez store, but will feature imprinted college clothing, glassware, and mugs. Gardner said the store may also explore other college-related services, such as ticket sales to college events and cookies and gift baskets from the college's Much Ado catering service. Hours will probably be Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The building at 131 North Main was constructed in 1914 and operated as White's Drug Store, then as Parks Rexall Drug Store from 1965 until its purchase by Tom Clark in 1984.
The college plans to preserve as much of the building's historical architectural features as possible in the renovation. The space will also be freshly carpeted and painted inside and out, and merchandising racks and exterior signage will be installed. Because the building is downtown, exterior work must be approved by the Town Design Review Board, which will consider the work at its June 17 meeting.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,800 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.