A growing chain of off-campus bookstores is branching into Lawrence, opening in April at the end of Oread Avenue.
Beat The Bookstore, a Utah-based company that concentrates on selling used college textbooks, plans to open its 23rd store at 622 W. 12th St.
The 1,000-square-foot store will occupy a former hair salon between two iconic businesses already popular among Kansas University students: the original Yello Sub sandwich shop and The Crossing bar.
Dan Keating's job will be to make his franchise shop the next must-visit locale. About 90 percent of his inventory will be used books, including many bought back from students at the end of the spring semester.
Don't expect to see any art supplies, basketball jerseys or Jayhawk shot glasses on display. The plan is to sell texts for less and buy them back for more than other bookstores do.
"It's just books," said Keating, who secured the franchise over the weekend. "Our whole deal is to make it convenient for the kids. That's one of the plusses of this location. And if we don't have a book (or other items), they can go a block over and find it - or vice versa."
That's because Beat The Bookstore will be just down Oread Avenue from the Kansas Union, home to the main KU Bookstores shop, which offers new and used texts and a wide variety of school supplies, Jayhawk apparel and souvenirs.
At the other end of Jayhawk Boulevard is Jayhawk Bookstore, an off-campus store that has competed with KU Bookstores for years. University Book Shop is on 23rd Street.
David Monk, co-founder and president of Beat The Bookstore, is confident Keating will be successful by offering books using the Utah-based company's proprietary software.
The computer program allows each store to track prices worldwide without going through a wholesaler, Monk said. That produces information that allows Beat The Bookstore owners to make sales and purchase offers - and even trade books with other Beat The Bookstore locations - without involving a central distribution center.
"We've become a virtual wholesaler, without the typical overhead," Monk said. "We're not Wal-Mart. We're not going to have every single thing that you'll need for school. But we sell textbooks cheap, and because they're cheap, they sell out quickly."
Beat The Bookstore originally had arranged to open in Lawrence using a different franchisee, who had expected to remodel and occupy the former Duds 'n' Suds laundry and bar at 918 Miss.
But that owner backed out, and Keating jumped in. He said that his store would operate at street level through the summer, when the upstairs at 622 W. 12th - commonly known as The Green Onion - would be remodeled and expanded to open up 2,000 square feet for his bookstore by fall. The downstairs space then would be available for expansion of Yello Sub.
Keating's wife, Denise, will manage the new bookstore. They expect to hire four or five part-timers to help out.
"I'm excited," said Dan Keating, a Shawnee resident who co-owns Tristar Intermodal, a Kansas City, Mo.-based IT company that tracks freight. "It's a fun company, and everything we do is meant for the students."