Student Book Store Is An MSU, Lansing-Area Institution
Many places around East Lansing have been institutions to the Michigan State community for decades.
There's Spartan Stadium, the Spartan statue, Beaumont Tower and many more. But there's only one college bookstore that's withstood the test of time like those landmarks, serving students for more than half a century.
Student Book Store opened in downtown East Lansing in 1960 in a 2,000 square-foot building right across the street from MSU. Now, SBS occupies more than 40,000 square feet of retail space at 421 E. Grand River Ave. It's become one of those MSU community landmarks as a destination for students, residents and sports fans alike.
"We're a bookstore, and we're guaranteed to have the right book for every class at Michigan State," SBS Manager Brad Ballein said, "but that's not all we do.
"We've got the largest Green And White shop in the world. Apparel, knickknacks, souvenirs--we've got it all."
Ballein's parents, Howard and Vivian, started SBS in 1960 with a group of private investors. They've run their business through all sorts of changes, like those in their industry (as renting textbooks has become a prominent practice, not just purchasing) and those across the road (MSU growing from fledgling university to global institution).
"What's made us successful is that we're a local business, and we've continued to pay attention to that," Ballein said.
That focus on community, as well as perseverance, are critical characteristics that Ballein said all business start-ups should remember.
"Stick to it, because hard work can pay big rewards later," is the advice he'd offer new small business owners.
Now, summer is winding down and football season is cranking up. It's almost that time of year when thousands of Spartans descend on East Lansing. They'll no doubt have to start thinking about what can be one of the more frustrating aspects of college: purchasing textbooks.
But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, buying your books can be easy and stress-free at SBS.
Ballein says you can save money, too, if you follow these five tips:
"Get your books ahead of time," Ballein said. "At SBS, it's not a problem if you buy early then return them."
But you don't have to worry about purchasing the wrong textbook at SBS.
"We guarantee we have the right books for each class," Ballein said. "We know exactly what books they're using at Michigan State."
Buying isn't your only option when it comes to college textbooks. At SBS, you can rent.
"Just like with a house, you can rent your books," Ballein aid. "You still get what you need for your class, but you just return the book at the end of the semester. And it's less expensive."
Some people prefer brand new textbooks, but you can save money if you go with the used versions.
"Buy used books and save," Ballein said. "When you buy used you can save up to 25 percent. It might seem like a little thing, but when it all adds up it's really a big thing."
Plus, used books sometimes have helpful notes and highlighted sections from previous owners since they've already been broken in for study.
This one's just simple math: Buy your books at SBS instead of online and you save money because you don't have to pay for expensive shipping costs.
Plus, you get SBS' personal touch.
"Shop here for our convenient service," Ballein said. "We've got the books and the service to match, and we keep it local."
If you bought your textbooks, sell them back at SBS for the best returns.
"We buy back every day for top cash," Ballein said.