Bennetts Bookstore shuts up shop
After 20 years of providing Wintec students with textbooks, Bennetts Bookstore has been given the shove to make way for an administration area for staff.
A rise in online shopping has left Wintec students wishing to purchase key textbooks facing a trek across town to the Bennetts store at the University.
After Bennetts was moved from their permanent site in November last year, Wintec offered them a pop-up shop to be run in the library until March 15.
Wintec spokeswoman Erin Andersen said more students were flocking online to buy their textbooks, and this was considered when determining if an on campus textbook suplier was needed.
''We believe the temporary store at the peak times at the start of each of semester was an arrangement which best suited our students' needs,'' she said.
But Bennetts Wintec store manager Joy Leet said running the pop-up store with very little resources, including a lack of communication facilities, was not feasible.
Ms Leet said without access to computers or phones, they could not adequately help students in the pop-up shop, so yesterday they packed up and left.
Bennetts Bookstore owner Geoff Spong said he believes Wintec have made a huge mistake.
''We believe that Wintec have disposed of a key student service, that they are out of touch with the needs of their staff and their students, that there is a place for a fulltime on-campus bookstore and that by severing our lease after 20 years on the campus, that students are being disadvantaged,'' he said.
To add salt to the wound, the space that Bennetts previously occupied, which Mr Spong was told would be utilised for further student lecture space, is now housing administration space for SITEWORX - the facilities management arm of wintec - who were incidentally the operation responsible for formally giving Bennetts the boot.
Mr Spong suggested that Bennetts be permanently housed in a space in Wintec House - which is the temporary home of Hawkins Construction while they complete construction of Citygate - but said he was angry to find Wintec was planning a hospitality venture for the space instead.
''I think that was the icing on the cake. That a key student service is being replaced by a wine bar,'' he said.
But Mr Flowers said Mr Spong was ''extremely misinformed'' as it was not yet decided what the former site offices of Hawkins Construction would become.
''After the Citygate building is finished, and the subsequent boulevard areas developed which flow onto our campus,
Wintec will be looking at options of what the Wintec House space could be best used for. At this stage, the most likely option is for it to be fitted out as a café,'' he said.
When a meeting between Wintec chief executive Mark Flowers and Mr Spong on Tuesday proved to shut all doors on the possibility of Bennetts having a permanent store on campus, Bennetts decided to pull the pin.
''We would have maintained any stress that was happening if there was a light at the end of the tunnel,'' Ms Leet said.
Ms Andersen said the institute was dismayed to see Bennetts close up shop yesterday.
''Bennetts' decision to close the store today was unexpected and it is an inconvenience to our students,'' she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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