MCC: Changes made to help cafe, bookstore meet goals

Ashley Roness
Star Staff Writer

Expenses were up, and revenue didn’t meet expectations, at the Pioneer Mercantile bookstore and the MCC Cafe on the Miles Community College campus last year.

As a result, changes, including staff reductions, are in the works, the MCC Board of Trustees learned this month.

MCC President Stacy Klippenstein reported that both the bookstore and the cafeteria had higher expenses last year, and failed to meet revenue projections, forcing them to draw on the carry-forward balance from previous years.

With the recent struggle of the bookstore and cafeteria, Jeannie McIsaac-Tracy, interim director of academic affairs, proposed several changes.

For the bookstore, she suggested dramatically reducing the staff. 

They would have one full-time employee and fill in the gaps with work study students and a few part-time employees to help at the beginning of the semester.  

They will also look at reducing the hours the bookstore is open. For example, last year the bookstore was open all summer despite little traffic.

The second major change would involve rewriting the book refund policy and adjusting book prices.

“We currently allow students to buy books and return them for full price,” said McIsaac-Tracy. “It allows students at the first of the term to purchase their books, go to class, find out they don’t need or can share with a friend, or they can find it on Amazon, and they return it.”

The bookstore now will only allow full refunds at the beginning of a semester if a student drops the class or drops out of school.

The new policy should help with inventory cost control issues, she said. End-of-semester book buy-backs will continue.

In the future, the bookstore may allow students to reserve books online, and offer incentives and different purchasing options.

Similar changes have been proposed for the cafeteria. 

McIsaac-Tracy said she believes that dining services personnel need to work closely with the student life and housing team as they both impact student success.

To do this, they will work to implement more theme nights, special events and activities that will be jointly sponsored.

McIsaac-Tracy gave as an example trivia or bingo nights.

Another change would be adding more structure to the student employee program. This would include requiring students to wear uniforms and name tags, as well as improving the supervision and accountability of student employees. 

McIsaac-Tracy said she would also like to involve student employees in the budgeting process and teach them how to do inventory.

Trustee Mark Petersen said he believes having students know more about the budget is a good idea as many young people leave school with little financial literacy. 

Another change is eliminating the bulk food purchasing policy.

Currently, at the end of the semester, a student is allowed to come into the cafeteria and bulk purchase with their extra meal plan money. 

According to McIsaac-Tracy, this shouldn’t be happening as students should be using the majority of their meal plan money during the school year. 

Like the bookstore, the cafeteria will look at adjusting their summer hours as those months don’t produce enough traffic. 

MCC will be closely monitoring both the bookstore and cafeteria this year, the board learned. 

(Contact Ashley Roness at or 406-234-0450.)