As most students do at the beginning of the school year, sophomore architecture major Allysa Britting set out to purchase textbooks before courses started. She went to the Ball State Bookstore first but said the lines were long, and she didn’t see too many books on the shelves, so she decided to go to the T.I.S. College Bookstore in the Village, only to discover it was no longer a bookstore.
In April 2021, the company Gameday Spirit bought the T.I.S. College Bookstore in Muncie and rebranded it as The Cardinal Fanstore. Gameday Spirit also owns a college fanstore in Champaign, Illinois, at the University of Illinois. The Muncie store sells Ball State apparel, accessories and other themed merchandise.
The outlet in Champaign doesn’t sell books either, said Maclaine Stahl, Gameday Spirit marketing manager. Stahl said T.I.S. had considered discontinuing its book sales before, so Gameday Spirit decided not to sell textbooks in Muncie, and they don’t plan to sell them in the future — leaving the Ball State Bookstore as the only in-person option for students to purchase textbooks.
“It’s a little frustrating, I think,” Britting said. “One, [T.I.S. closing] overloads the other bookstore. But two, there’s not a great way for students to compare prices or to just have that second outlet to just be able to divide up their purchase to make it the most cost effective.”
Stahl said many Ball State students and staff members were not aware of the change to T.I.S. because the exterior sign still reads “T.I.S. College Bookstore,” but it’s something Gameday Spirit is working on changing soon to clear the confusion.
T.I.S. informed the Ball State Bookstore it would be selling the store during the spring 2021 semester, so the Ball State Bookstore increased its book inventory by an additional 30 percent to make up for students who shopped at T.I.S. Ron Sorrell, manager of the Ball State Bookstore, said he had a great working relationship with T.I.S. The two stores would occasionally partner together on smaller orders that required a minimum order amount.
“Now that we are the only local bookstore, we’ll continue to serve every student that needs a textbook or school supplies — or wants to buy Ball State apparel,” he said.
While Britting did buy some of her textbooks from the Ball State Bookstore, she said she was disappointed with the lack of options for student purchases.
“A lot of people were really shocked by T.I.S. closing,” Britting said. "I think there’s been a lot of frustration, too, especially with the Ball State Bookstore being slow for purchases. I think, all around, it’s just been a hard time getting books.”
Sorrel said fall is always the busiest time of year at the Ball State Bookstore, so delays and long lines are inevitable. He said while almost every bookstore in the country has been experiencing textbook delays due to delivery and supply chain issues, the store’s staff members are doing their best to serve everyone and ensure students receive their course materials in a timely manner.
Britting said she thinks T.I.S. closing will be good for the Ball State Bookstore’s business, but she was disappointed with the lack of textbook options it had during the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
“I felt like the bookstore was very crowded,” Britting said. “Even if you were getting physical textbooks, there was no guarantee they were going to be there.”
Although The Cardinal Fanstore does not sell textbooks, the store still provides an educational option for students. It sells course packets for Ball State classes, which are collections of various materials including scholarly articles and anthology sections. This is the first time Gameday Spirit has sold educational materials, and Cardinal Fanstore staff members plan to evaluate course packet sales at the end of this semester.
“The T.I.S. Bookstore in Muncie has done course packets as well, so we decided to give it a try this semester,” Stahl said. “Then, we’ll see if it’s something we want to continue going forward.”
Stahl said Gameday Spirit is grateful for the opportunity to join the Ball State community.
“We’re incredibly excited to be at Ball State University now, and we’re so incredibly excited to serve the fans and students, alumni and faculty at Ball State,” Stahl said. “We’re very energized to insert our business model in Muncie.”