The WKU Store’s July Contest – “What does Big Red mean to you?”

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Thursday, July 12th, 2011 9:00 AM CST

That’s right, The WKU Store wants to know what Big Red means to you. As inspired by Jim Sears’ recent SOKY Happenings article, we decided feature a new contest.

In 25 words or less, tell us your thoughts about Big Red. Winner will receive a Giant Inflatable Big Red! Submit your entry by July 31, 2012. Email jim.sears@wku.edu
All ages welcome to participate. One entry per person.

To learn more about the humble beginnings of this contest, read Jim’s account down memory lane below:

“What Does Big Red Mean to You?”

By Jim Sears

It must have been twenty years ago when I was taking a drive in and around
Charlottesville, Virginia. I had just left Thomas Jefferson and Monticello when I passed a highway sign that read -University of Virginia, next two exits. When I was up on President Tom’s mountain I could just make out the town below. I was not in a hurry and my new truck was tooling along so I took the first exit and headed toward the university. My dogs needed a walk and I needed some lunch.

My dogs often took trips with me. They loved the shady lawn-covered, pond accessible, park-like areas that make up college grounds. As for me, I had learned years before that the environs of colleges often include good food and quiet pubs.

I had some lunch and the dogs chased squirrels, ducks or shadows. We kicked around campus for awhile and I found myself at the bookstore-wow, what a bookstore. I looked around until I found a University of Virginia Lacrosse hat. Truth be told, I had barely heard of lacrosse before I entered the store, but I was a full fledged fan as I walked out the door.

Okay, you might be saying, “Jim Sears, you work at The WKU Store and this is all just a setup.” Actually, this all took place long before I entered the college bookstore world.

Taking quick sojourns on longer trips had always been something I enjoyed and campus stops were no exception. What’s not to love about a leisurely stretch on unfamiliar college grounds-trees, history, ponds, architecture? I had just happened upon the Virginia bookstore and merely placed the visit in my memory bucket. I should also mention that when I was there I found out about the Wahoos-more about that later. Years after when I did land the job at The WKU Store, I was a kindred spirit with the folks doing their summer time pop-ins in our store.

Which brings us up to date, as many of you know the construction bug has made its way to Downing University Center (DUC). On campus we have new digs at Garrett, but we knew that this location would not conveniently serve the community. What to do? What to do?

The answer, of course, is the new in-town WKU Store on Nashville Road.

I guess I started the story backward and should have been telling you about how we needed a place in town for folks that live, well, in town. I apologize, but the story about my dogs was a nice trip down memory lane. Okay, now you know the truth, I can proceed.

We knew we needed a store to serve the Bowling Green community, but what do you think has been happening ever since we opened our doors? Sure, most of our customers are from in town, but guess who else has been coming through the door? Call it serendipity, dumb luck, or found money, but when we opened the doors for the first time we were pleasantly surprised to find the first shoppers were all from out of town: Lexington, New Jersey and California. Only one group was made up of alumni, the other two were” just passing through”. All three groups loaded into their mini vans dressing more red than when they arrived (the Lexington van started out too blue for my blood). Leaving the store they asked for directions to campus to walk the dogs, walk the kids and walk the Hill.

Ever since that first day, we have been honing our directional skills, improving our dining suggestions, and increasing our knowledge of Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky. We have to—we are questioned every day. We tell visitors about Lost River Cave, Fountain Square, Hot Rods, Corvette and that dog food smell that comes from Hills. Our student workers are becoming Bowling Green residents more and more with each passing day. They can give directions to Mammoth Cave now without searching MapQuest and know the population of Bowling Green and why every street in town has at least three names.

We started out wanting to have a location with a lot of traffic. Hopefully, we are slowly becoming more than that alone. We want to bring the fun and sometimes quirky atmosphere of campus into town.

Back to the Wahoos. On my visit to the University of Virginia twenty years ago, I kept hearing talk of the Wahoos. I am fairly well traveled and of a certain intelligence, but even I had never heard of the Wahoos. I came to learn that it is an in-the-know nickname for the sports teams at UVA (officially they are the Cavaliers). I picked that up at the bookstore—smart people at that place. This is where y’all come into the story. Just about every visitor not familiar with WKU asks the inevitable question, “What is that big red thing?”

We need your help. We have all heard answers to that question: Spirit of WKU, Dr. Gary Ransdell’s brother, a pregnant Elmo, The Hill? Tell us in twenty five words or less what Big Red means to you and you could win a giant Big Red inflatable. All ages welcome, in fact, kids will give better answers. Email me at jim.sears@wku.edu by July 31st. Information is available at www.wkustore.com. It’s like front-porch sitting, you can’t get it wrong.

About the Author: Jim Sears is the Associate Director of The WKU Store. He is also a member of SKY Farmers Market and is affectionately known as “Dog Biscuit Boy.”

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