Aug 242004
Authors: Clarke Reader

While Fort Collins has many chain store locations, students at

CSU have the option to shop at several independent stores near


Although not as familiar, independent stores have many services

to offer students such as used merchandise and the ability to

special order.

Two such stores are Finest CDs, Tapes and LPs, 1103 West

Elizabeth St., and The Book Rack Bookstore, 1801 South College


“We have a more knowledgeable staff, an independent feel and a

larger mix of products than the chains,” said Jim Risser, owner of


Risser has owned Finest since 1972, and since Finest is located

so close to campus, many students frequent the store.

“About 60 percent of our business is students,” said Mark

Cheatham, store manager for Finest. “It’s mostly due to the good

location. We get a lot of foot traffic.”

The independent atmosphere of Finest is one of the things that

draws students to Finest.

“I always see the same people there, which is nice. Plus, they

have a frequent buyer’s card you can sign up for, and they almost

always have what I’m looking for,” said Cam DeCoster, a junior

mechanical engineering major.

Finest sells used CD’s, cassette tapes, DVD’s, VHS and records,

in addition to new entertainment.

“There’s no doubt that used (merchandise) keeps the doors open,”

Risser said. “We’ve got over a thousand items used at lower prices

than most other places. It’s the best deal for the customer, and


Selling used is something that Finest and The Book Rack have in


The Book Rack Bookstore has been owned by Susie Wilmer since

1980, and has maintained a steady clientele over the years.

“Our stock is two-thirds used and we give out trade credit,

which makes us different from the chains,” Wilmer said. “We sell

used fiction the most, but we can special order and get orders in

fast. We give 20 percent discounts to orders as well.”

Being able to special-orders is one of the biggest differences

between independent stores and chain stores.

“We can special-order almost anything that is in print and get

it the next day,” Risser said.

With the number of chains growing, many independent stores are

being driven out of business because of chains’ abilities to sell

items at such low prices.

“Chains selling at low prices has been happening for years,”

Risser said. “It’s called loss leader pricing. They get you in for

the little stuff, but there you see all the bigger, expensive



Finest CDs Tapes LPs

1103 West Elizabeth Street


Open 9-9 Monday-Saturday 12-6 Sunday

The Bookrack Bookstore

1801 South College Avenue


Open 9-7 Monday-Thursday 9-8 Friday-Saturday 12-6 Sunday

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