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Saving on software the student way

Students reeling from the costs of tuition and books may be relieved to discover a hidden corner on the second floor of the USF Bookstore where they can find shelter from the wallet-draining expenses of college.

The USF Computer Store might not be as fancy or prominent as CompUSA, but it has a major asset – greatly discounted prices on name-brand computer hardware and software for all USF students, staff and faculty.

The store offers computer products from Microsoft, Apple, Dell, HP, IBM and Sony, as well as television sets, sound systems and video games. Though much of the merchandise isn’t stocked, it can be easily ordered. However, the store has a large stock of items such as ink cartridges, USB cables and blank CDs and DVDs available.

“We don’t stock a lot because we like to get the students or whoever exactly what they are looking for,” store manager Carl Smith said.

The store, originally run by USF, reopened in 2004 after Barnes & Noble took over the Bookstore’s space. The old computer store was replaced with a Starbucks coffee shop.

Barnes & Noble is not qualified to do academic sales of computers and other products at universities, so Smith developed a proposal for a new computer store with the director of computing arts and sciences Craig Woolley.

The store has specific accounts set up with vendors and is able to resell the products at lower prices by consolidating the buying power of university departments and faculty, staff and students.

“Part of our goal was to drive the prices down for everybody – students, faculty and staff,” Woolley said.

There are two main reasons the computer store is able to offer discounted prices, one of which is the amount of departmental business the store receives. In most cases, the store is able to pass the prices available to the departments on to the students. Academic discounts are available to the store as a University entity as well.

The shop is equipped with a full service center for repairs and installations manned by two Dell service certified technicians. The service center charges a labor rate fee of $20 per half hour.

The service center offers setup and installations of software applications and operating systems on new computers and a 30-minute lesson from a technician for $60. Additional service rates are available at the store.

Anyone with a USF NetID can purchase items through the Web site at and have the merchandise delivered to their homes. The same discounted prices are available when ordering through the Web site.

The store is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.