Homecoming usually means that people are returning home, but for The Clarion Store, it’s the store itself that has come home. PennWest Clarion will celebrate the grand opening of the store in its former space on the ground floor of Gemmell Student Center during an 11 a.m. Feb. 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony.


“The ultimate goal was to bring the bookstore back to (Gemmell) to increase accessibility by centralizing the location on campus,” said Megan Boozer, manager of The Clarion Store.


In 2013, the store moved to Suites on Main South. With the new location came operation by a lease management company. In 2021, management of the store returned to Clarion Students’ Association, which hired Boozer. The SOMS space was vacated, and the store was housed in temporary quarters in Gemmell – including in a racquetball court and in a conference room – while the former store space was renovated.


“As the space was utilized by multiple programs since the previous bookstore occupied it, multiple renovations were necessary,” Boozer said.


That includes new drywall and flooring, paint and ceilings. The space includes upgrading the lighting to LED, a new retail door and a creative paint scheme with a brighter version of the Clarion blue and gold – a marriage between the traditional Clarion colors, and PennWest University’s blue and Global Online’s gold. A new wall sets apart space for student programming.


Boozer said a few minor structural issues were discovered and remediated, as well. CSA funds paid for the renovations, which were completed by Fred L. Burns, Inc., a Shippenville contracting company.


“Since its inception, CSA has been funded by the student activity fee. At the end of each year, any unused funds revert back to the general fund and are invested for future use that benefits students. The store is a large-scale project using those funds,” Boozer said.


She noted that over the years, as stewards of these funds, CSA has prudently and consistently invested to provide for future student-driven projects.


“The store is split into three areas: legacy, athletics and PennWest Clarion,” she said. “We have styled the largest portion of the store with current students in mind; the items are Clarion- and PennWest-focused, with an attempt to stay as trendy and current as possible.”


Transitioning from a leased management company to a CSA-owned store in 2021 provided an opportunity for students to have a say in what is in the store. Along with Boozer, seven students will staff the store.


“Our staff of student workers are active participants in design, purchasing and pricing. Student affordability has been a focus in the process from start to finish,” Boozer said. “We strive to have something for everyone, including Mom, Dad, alumni and future Golden Eagles. Multiple brands are available, including Champion, Nike and Adidas, as well as local vendors.


The ribbon cutting will include remarks by PennWest Founding President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, Student Senate treasurer and CSA board member Elyse Talerico, and vice president for advancement and Clarion campus administrator Jim Geiger. Guests can enjoy refreshments, shop the storewide 20% off sale, and see the student programming space in Gemmell 107.