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Unromantic Innovation: The Evolving Story of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore

Jeff Deutsch is the director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, one of the nation’s preeminent academic bookstores. Founded in 1961, the Co-op has had over 80,000 members and is a beloved Chicago cultural institution. In 2016, after two decades of declining sales and significant losses on the bottom line, Jeff called the Co-op’s membership to action. The response was overwhelming, demonstrating the strength of the idea of the institution and the emotional connection that thousands of customers maintained, even after they had moved away from Hyde Park.

Jeff will discuss the business of running an academic bookstore, the necessity of evolution and unromantic innovation for survival, and how the Co-op has leveraged and strengthened its community of customers to thrive culturally while somehow making it work financially.

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