For most Knox students, a visit to the bookstore means beelining towards the book or supply they are looking for, paying and leaving. They may glance at the “Unemployed Philosophers Guild” section or perfume shelf, wonder briefly about their existence, and then leave to go about their day.
“It’s just something a little but different,” store manager Virgi Cox said of the various merchandise oddities. “Sometimes parents come in with a young child, and this is something cheap but that will still make them happy.”
According to Cox, the dolls and other items in the Unemployed Philosophers Guild sell very well. Characters such as Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and Jane Austen are available in doll and finger puppet form. There are also dinosaur print mugs that change into fossils when filled with hot liquid. Other items in this section include pieces of pop culture.
“That Dr. Who stuff just flies off the shelves,” Cox said of the TARDIS mugs and sticky notes in the collection.
The Philosophers Guild was brought to the bookstore’s attention a few years ago by Dean of the College Larry Breitborde, who found a Lincoln doll from the company while on a vacation.
“He brought the doll down and thought selling them would go over well, and they have,” Cox said. “Of all places, Knox was a good idea for the Lincoln doll.”
As for the perfume collection, Cox explained that these came to her a few years ago when a woman entered the shop proposing to add them to the inventory. The bottles come in various scents, and each is tied to a person’s name with the idea that someone could own a perfume named after them.
“We decided we could try them and they sold well, but the popular names sold first, and now we’re stuck with the odd ones,” Cox said.
As for the non-textbooks on sale, some are picked out by bookstore staff, but most are automatic shipments from one of the store’s suppliers — usually the year’s bestsellers. The ones that do not sell out remain in the store, making for an oddball assortment of literature that has accumulated over the years.
Other unexpected wares include potpourri scents and assorted cards for 50 cents. Cox also orders stuffed animals that wear Knox College t-shirts. While these animals are all for sale, she puts them in various places around the shop to help fill odd gaps on shelves.
“Some of these things don’t sell fast, but they do sell,” Cox said.