Want a cup of coffee? How about a Stag sweatshirt? A birthday gift? Is that old camera kaput? Shoppers can get all that, not to mention books and textbooks, at the new Fairfield University Bookstore that opens today (Friday, Nov. 4.) in the downtown retail anchor space formerly occupied by Borders Books.

To celebrate the opening of the new store at 1499 Post Road a variety of activities is planned over the weekend, from a Kid's Craft Corner on the second floor and a Gershwin piano concert to an Underground Boxing and Fitness demo and the music of Mike Falzone in the Saturday Night Cafe.

The official start to business takes place at 10:30 a.m. today with a ribbon-cutting by university, town and local business officials.

The property at the busy corner of Post and Reef roads is regarded by town officials and local business leaders as one of the Fairfield business district's anchor retail sites, dating to the days when the Fairfield Store, a family-owned department store did business there for 75 years. But the commercial climate downtown languished after the Fairfield Store closed in 1996, causing a series of smaller shops and businesses to fail until the property was rebuilt and Borders opened in 2001.

Borders closed in May when the national chain entered bankruptcy and then closed down entirely.

Fairfield University, in collaboration with Follett Higher Education Group, has taken over the entire space vacated by Borders, with the first floor home to best sellers, a cafe, gifts, electronics and branded merchandise from Fairfield University and the town's four high schools.

Upstairs, visitors will find the children's section, bargain books, textbooks and a community gathering space.

More Information

Photos online To see more photographs of the Fairfield University bookstore, visit www.fairfieldcitizennewsonline.com.

"Essentially we stripped everything to the walls," Craig Kennedy, community relations manager with Follett, said during a tour Wednesday. The new managers have installed new flooring and furnishings and "a ton of infrastructure" like new data lines, he said.

The cafe is being run temporarily by the school's food services contractor, Sodexo, but in January Starbucks will move in, marking the first time Starbucks and Follett have partnered together -- and even though there is a large Starbucks outlet just to the west at the intersection of Post Road and Carter Henry Drive. When the weather permits, the cafe will also have outdoor seating.

"We're considering earlier hours for the cafe and I would guess when exam week rolls around we'll stay open a little later, Kennedy said

Kennedy said Al and Ken Kleban, the Post Road commercial structure's owners, have been a major players in arranging for the university bookstore's opening in the downtown space, Kennedy said. "Ken has been amazing, and Al would come in all the time," he said.

Kennedy said he has been in contact with the Fairfield Public Library, the Pequot Library, the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce to arrange hosting activities at the bookstore.

"I've already got 10 events lined up for November and December," he said, adding he hopes to get a Friday night musical cafe going soon.

Kennedy said he hopes Borders' regular patrons will find a seamless transition to the university store, and come in to discover new features, such as the computer and electronics department.

"There will be a great emphasis on cutting-edge computer technology, items that five years ago you wouldn't necessarily find in a bookstore," said James Fitzpatrick, assistant vice president of administration and student affairs for Fairfield U.

"At the same time, it will be a welcoming destination for patrons to not only purchase the latest books, but have a cup of coffee and enjoy enlightening events."

For more information on the grand opening weekend activities visit www.fairfieldbkstr.com.