A Day in the Life: Jim Huang, Bookstore Manager

In this feature, The Thrill will showcase a typical day of a member of the Kenyon Community: student, faculty, or staff. If you have nominations for people to be showcased, please share them in the comments or email us at thekenyonthrill@gmail.com.


The Bookstore. It’s a part of our campus that we accept as our provider of textbooks, snack needs, and even the occasional Shakespearean finger puppet. But how do these finger puppets and other treasures get to our town of Gambier? Meet Jim Huang, Bookstore Manager. It’s through him that all these things we take for granted on campus happen, such as online textbook ordering, events, and bringing all the best new books to Gambier. If you want to learn how the magic happens, read on as Jim takes us through his day!

7:20 a.m.: Arrive late to the store. It’s the first day of a new employee time management system and I had intended to be here by 7:15 a.m., which is when the bookstore’s day starts.  (My usual start time is 9:00 a.m.)

7:30 a.m.: Counting in our newspaper delivery, setting aside reading copies for the back room and New York Times subscription copies.

7:45 a.m.: Another staff member arrives; I talk through time management system with her.

7:55 a.m: Run sales reports for Friday and the weekend.  Looking at overall totals first, then a fast look through the line by line report.  The latter is 42 pages long. For the three day period, we sold 1287 different products, 2939 individual pieces. Looking for patterns, things that are a priority to reorder.  A lot of new items in the convenience store — how are they doing? Well! Ten of the Neuro line of beverages [sold] in three days. Strong Valentine’s Day item sales on Friday and Saturday, but Sunday is down a little. The store has been a bit of a slump lately; need to work on this!

8:15 a.m.: Monday mornings, we report book sales to the American Booksellers Association — trade books, not texts — for the weekly Indie bestseller list.  Pulling and formatting the numbers for upload takes just a few minutes.  It’s a very light week for book sales — six titles sold 2 copies each; 114 titles sold one each.  This isn’t a store that sells lots of copies of a few titles.  We sell a few copies of lots of titles.  Wondering why the two copies of Yeager: An Autobiography that we’ve had in the store since 2012 both sold last week.  Was Yeager in the news last week?  No time to linger on this.

8:20 – 8:50 a.m.: Chat with a staff member about technology; she borrowed an iPad in order to get familiar with tablets.  We are considering purchasing a tablet for use in the store, and I’m happy that she’s been willing to play with one.

8:50 a.m.: Help two more arriving staff members with the new time management system.

9:05 a.m.: Finish up the ABA bestseller list upload.

9:10 – 9:25 a.m.: Review and approve paper timesheets for staff for the last pay period.  Looking forward to full implementation of the new time management system, which will eliminate the need for these paper forms.

9:50 a.m.: Coffee and a breakfast sandwich (bought from the bookstore) at my desk, reading and responding to emails.

10:15 a.m.: Catching up with our associate buyer about ordering books and the impending loss of the Boots cosmetics line.

10:40 a.m.: More emails, more questions about the new time management system.

11:05 a.m.: Another conversation with the associate buyer about classifying books in the store, and ordering in copies of titles for comps.

11:15 a.m.: Check on student associate timesheets; approve submitted timesheets.

11:40 a.m.:  Review stock status of apparel with buyer.

11:50 a.m.: The college is implementing a new purchasing system that might take business away from the bookstore and push it to distant online vendors. We are trying to work with this outsourcing group to try to keep that business on campus.

12:00 p.m.:  Asked to help at register with a customer service issue.

12:05 p.m.: Resume looking at the outsource problem.  Also monitoring the new time entry system.  Shared document about outsource issue with buyers, noting that we’ll set up a meeting to discuss later this week.

12:50 p.m.: Help staffer with issue with new time entry system.

12:55 p.m.: Lunch!

1:55 p.m.:  Look at new style flip flops that arrived today — they look good!.  Fast look at other arriving shipments.

2:10 p.m.: Start working on resolving an accounting issues from Fall 2014 semester rentals.

2:20 p.m.: While a report on a rental is processing — our system is sometimes very slow generating reports — I start putting together a small order with a book distributor.

2:35 p.m.:  Still waiting for the report to finish running. Book order in still in process — a small order is turning into a larger one — but also now working on a time management system issue too.

3:30 p.m.: Short conversation about arrangements for a reading in the bookstore later this month.  Continuing to work on the rental accounting problem, and of course answering emails.

5:30 p.m.: Still working on rental accounting issue — including pulling numbers from our inventory system and a couple of conversations with the textbook buyer to get help in figuring out what happened.

5:45 p.m.: Heading home for the day.  We’ve made what decisions we can about the rental accounting.  I haven’t finished the book distributor order, but there’s nothing urgent and I’m ready for dinner.

8:45 p.m.: After dinner (cooked over a couple of episodes of Undeclared via Netflix and watched over last week’s All About a Boy and Big Bang Theory off the DVR), I start working on one of my own book publishing projects.  (When not here at the bookstore, what I do for fun is run a very small publishing company that does books for mystery lovers.)

9:30 p.m.: Reach a good stopping point on the book project.  Decide to open up the order that I didn’t finish during the day.  After 45 more minutes on this, I realize that I’m not going to finish at a reasonable hour.

10:15 p.m.: My wife and I split the chores — I take out the trash while she walks the dog — and then we finally have the time to read for a little while before calling it a night.  At this point in the day, I’m reading for pleasure.  But there’s a work element to this too — I’m reading an advance copy of The Daylight Marriage, a book coming out this spring that the publisher is hoping we’ll promote.  The book is good, but it’s been  a long day and I last less than 15 minutes before turning out the light.

Well, there you have it: the incredibly busy day in the life of Jim Huang! Thanks for all your hard work, Jim, we really appreciate it! Have someone else you’d like to see in day in the life of? Let us know in the comments! Just love Jim? Also let us know in the comments!

2 responses

  1. Thanks, Jim!
    I nominate Professor Lopez in the Psychology department. At a leadership focus group someone asked the question, “Who are leaders you admire on campus” and several people independently wrote down Prof Lopez. She is vital to this campus and I’d love to see why everyone looks up to her!

  2. Jim Huang is the best. (While Jim is still the best, how about a day in the life of one of our unsung heroes? I bet that any number of Maintenance workers or AVI staff would be interested.)

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