Martinez and Meis were the bookends of the bookstore

(06-28-2016)

Article by Linda Relyea

Darrell Meis

Director of the Adams State Bookstore and Grizzly Den, Darrell Meis remembers favorite aspects of his career.

They finish each other's sentences, remember special moments over the course of 25 years and fondly reminisce about children, students, and other favorites. Darrell Meis and Loretta Martinez retired from the Adams State Bookstore this spring. Throughout inventory, book buy-backs, summer side-walk sales, and the day-to-day running of the business, they have enjoyed their careers, especially the interaction with students, faculty and staff.

The bookstore hired many students through the decades for work-study positions. "We have now had children of former work-study students come in and apply for a position," Meis said.

Martinez remembers when they employed up to 26 students during an academic year. "They come in so young, often with no work experience," she said. "We watch them mature and become confident adults."

Graduating this spring, Kole Kelley '16 worked in the Bookstore for the last three years. "My favorite aspect of working there was by far the people I got to work with. Darrell always put me in a good mood, and Loretta always made me feel like the work I was doing was valued."

An Adams State alumnus Meis '81 said the work in the bookstore helps prepare the students for the professional world. "We have always had good students. We feel like they are all our kids."

Currently, Kelley is interning with the State Land Board of Colorado. "Customer relations, inventory management, and time management are certain things that come to mind that I have already begun to apply to my life that I learned while working at the Adams State Bookstore."

"Working with kids keeps you young," Meis said.

Both Martinez and Meis do not hesitate to comment on the changes in college bookstores over the past decades, but especially in the last few years. Martinez' office reflects some of the older supplies mixed in with newer technology. An electric typewriter sits on her desk, and behind her, shelves that once held inventory and other records and documents now stand empty as so much has become stored in the chips and other electronic systems.

But just as students now purchase their textbooks online, or through a "borrowing" site, the Adams State University Bookstore will close its doors on the past. This summer, a commercial business will take over the space.

"The way professors teach has changed," Meis said. He refers to a more hands-on and interactive pedagogy rather than strict classroom lecture and assigned readings. "We have seen a lot of changes, and just roll with them."

Martinez agrees, "Our back storeroom used to fill with pallets of books at the beginning of the fall semester, now apparel, keepsakes, and supplies take up the vast majority of floor space."

Kole Kelley and Loretta Martinez share stories on her last day of work in her office.

Loretta Martinez, ASU Bookstore program assistant, reads a card signed by all the ASU Bookstore work-study students on her last day of work, as Kole Kelley '16 looks on.

Meis said Martinez was his "first and last hire." She definitely knows the intricacies of her job after 25 years. "I would estimate it taking a full year to become fully proficient working at the bookstore," Martinez added. Part of that reasoning includes needing to be present for a full calendar year as different seasons mark different aspects of the business.

A significant change for the bookstore came when the mascot went from Indians to Grizzlies. "When I started we were the ASC Indians, then the ASC Grizzlies, and finally the ASU Grizzlies. Alumni from any particular era are seeking products with the insignia that matches their time at school."

He has kept up, always ordering different looks and styles to keep it fresh for visiting parents and students who want to flaunt their college of choice.

Ken Marquez, vice president for Student Services has worked with Meis for nearly 15 years. "I liked Darrell's sense of humor best. He always had a smile on his face and was laughing about something."

Kelley agrees: "The qualities that I admire about Darrell are his humor, his passion for everything he does, and honestly his character. He is a genuinely good person who always is looking to do what is fair by all and that is a rare quality and it is definitely something that I never over-looked."

When thinking of the bookstore, over the years, anyone who has worked on campus or attended classes, associates Halloween and the bookstore. Meis' annual costume contest inspires employees and students to create unusual and intricate costumes. Some of his favorite costumes over the years included the Alumni Relations and Foundation Office staff dressing up as Earth, Wind and Fire.

"I loved that he made the ASU Bookstore more than just a store," Marquez added. "He held Halloween costume contests and Easter egg hunts and other fun things to get students in the store."

For both Martinez and Meis, interacting with the Adams State diverse population, including students, staff and faculty has made their jobs interesting.

Martinez said: "We work with people from all different walks of life. In the last few years we have also dealt with inmates, who call in for books and supplies (through Extended Studies Prison Program)."

"Loretta is one of the hardest working people I ever had the pleasure of working with," Kelley said. "She has a toughness about her that was earned, but she also has a great heart which I really admire."

Martinez and her husband, Gabe, have two children. She can't imagine a better career. "I really loved working here."

Meis agreed: "I have always loved my job and being in the bookstore." He and his wife, Kim '82 also an Adams State graduate, have four children and 12 grandchildren.

For Kelley, the ASU Bookstore and Martinez and Meis were a big part of his Adams State education. "The bookstore is a place I will truly miss. I cannot thank them both for what they did for me and I wish them both the best."

Meis is a member of the Lions Club, the Alamosa High School Boosters; the Alamosa Recreation Board; and the National Association of College Stores, Inc. presented him with the degree of Certified Store Professional in 2001. He has also volunteered as a coach when his children were young and has been a football coach for AHS and Ortega Middle School.