Photo: Alan Fitch , owner of Jack Backers College Bookstore, stands in the second business location at 315 E. College St. that he and wife Pam opened in April.
(Photo by Kelly Daniel)
Jack Backers College Bookstore named Small Busines of the Year
by Kelly Daniel, Membership and Marketing Manager
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce has named Jack Backers College Bookstore as the Small Business of the Year - one of three Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards presented annually. Owners Alan and Pam Fitch will be recognized at the chamber’s 92nd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet, Tuesday, Sept. 24, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Hotel Fredonia Convention Center.
When Alan and Pam Fitch opened Jack Backers College Bookstore on North St. in June 2008, they had a desired “coming home experience.” The couple, both proud SFA alumni, transformed the building that was Lasergraphics Printing in to the place for SFA sports gear, gifts, textbooks and any other new-to-the-market items they discover that support purple pride.
“It’s an addictive business,” Alan said with a smile. He began in the college bookstore industry as an SFA student in 1985. “I learned a lot while working for James Raney at Varsity Bookstore on College St. Then in 2003, James sold his business to NEBO (Nebraska Book Company), one of the big three college bookstores. I was transferred to Lubbock in 2006 and managed four stores for NEBO at Texas Tech.”
Working for a private owner and a large corporation helped Alan and Pam set a successful business philosophy.
“First, we emphasize customer service and as a small business, we have the flexibility to do what is necessary to meet the customers’ needs,” Pam said. “Second, we maintain competitive pricing on books, college apparel and gifts so there’s no hardship for students on strict budgets to buy items and show their school pride. And third, we give back to SFA and the community. We are proud to work with the SFA Alumni Association and support scholarships and student organizations.”
Working with the SFA Alumni Association, Jack Backers helps expand and manage the association’s web site market place, with a portion of the sites’ sales going to fund scholarships. In the Alumni Corner canopy at Lumberjacks home football games, Alan and Pam enjoy supporting the game day tailgating by managing the spirit gear sales for the association.
The business reaches far from Nacogdoches with internet sales. Textbooks ship to customers in all 50 states and beyond. Jack Backers ships product to U.S. military bases around the world for soldiers taking online education courses.
Outside of textbooks, expanding the selection of SFA-themed clothing and gift items online meets another Jack Bakers’ goal to support alumni culture for SFA graduates across the nation.
“The internet is another retail space for us, and we take advantage of it,” Alan said, but the couple agree that the personal relationships formed over the years with the SFA faculty, students, their friends and families that walk into the stores are important. Opening the second Jack Backers College Bookstore location in April in the former Varsity Bookstore offers another option for their walk-in customers.
For the community, Alan and Pam are becoming more involved in outfitting some of the Nacogdoches’ schools sports fans. The couple work in programs produced by the chamber’s Education committee that include the annual Gen TX event and Great Expectations. These programs encourage students of all ages to seriously consider secondary education options and make future plans before high school graduation. Alan and Pam have been involved in the chamber and have worked to support the positive growth of Nacogdoches, well before they opened their own business. Pam volunteered as the chamber’s Fourth Friday Luncheon chair and served as executive director of the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce 92nd Annual Meeting & Membership Banquet is chaired by Betty Shinn. Reservations are required and tickets may be purchased by contacting the chamber at 936-560-5533.
Award recipients for 2013 are:
Mayor Roger Van Horn, Citizen of the Year sponsored by Tipton Ford, Inc.
Jack Backers College Bookstore, Small Business of the Year sponsored by Suddenlink Communications.
M & S Pharmacy, Medium Business of the Year sponsored by Regions Bank.
Drewery Construction, Large Business of the Year sponsored by R&K Distributors, Inc.