The Most Popular Place on Campus

The inner workings of the RE Bookstore


Ella Gonzalez '24

Students often line up to buy snacks in the post-assembly rush.


To the outside world, the tiny shack in the middle of campus may seem insignificant, but little do they know that it is the most vital part of the Ransom Everglades community,” said Gracie Hucks ’24.   

To many people in the RE community, the Ransom Everglades Bookstore is one of the most important places on campus. Students and faculty will drop in for a snack during the day, buy some RE merchandise, pick up English books for class, or get some school supplies.  

Before the opening of the official bookstore location in August of 1992, the bookstore was run out of a classroom in a building called Timken Hall, where the Fernandez STEM Center now stands. “The store opened during the lunch breaks only and carried extra copies of the textbooks, PE uniforms, a few school supplies, t-shirts and sweatshirts,” said Ms. Katrina Patchett, the former and first Director of Bookstores at RE. Independent schools started to like the idea of a college-like bookstore that would be open all day, have more stock, and attract parents and alumni. Former Head of School Frank J. Hogan III took this idea and put it into action by building one of the first independent school bookstores in the entire country.  

Ms. Patchett explained that “the current location was chosen because it was more central at the time – the art room and ceramics room were in the area and the gym was used for assemblies and events, so there was a lot of passing foot traffic.” The building that we know today was completed in July of 1992. However, it was flooded due to Hurricane Andrew a short time after. The maintenance crews were able to repair the building, and it opened three weeks later. 

Today, the bookstore is run by Mr. Hoffmann and Ms. Scarfone. Mr. Hoffmann works as the Director of Book and Online Stores but is also RE’s Security Coordinator and a lacrosse coach. Mr. Hoffmann has been working in the bookstore since the Fall of 2020 and came to Miami from the Northeast with his wife, Mrs. Melanie Hoffmann, who works as the Director of Advancement. When asked why he chooses to work at the bookstore, Mr. Hoffmann said, “I like interacting with the students every day.” His typical day at the bookstore includes interacting with all the vendors and suppliers, keeping both the Upper School and Middle School stores stocked, and supporting Ms. Scarfone in the daily operations. 

Ms. Scarfone works as the Upper School Bookstore Associate. After also moving from the Northeast, she started at RE as a substitute teacher and began working at the bookstore in Fall of 2018. Her job includes restocking, checking online orders, managing order requests from other departments, checking out students’ items before class, breaks, and before lunch, doing transaction reports and doing book and apparel orders. 

The bookstore is involved in many aspects of campus life and strives to promote community and school spirit on a daily basis

— Ms. Scarfone

This year, as part of a new wellness initiative, RE implemented a policy that does not allow the bookstore to be open during lunch hours. According to Mr. Hoffmann, the new rule came as a surprise. “We were never told the reason [the new policy], we were just told to close the store during the lunch block and that was it, there was no further explanation,” he said.  

As a result of the new policy, students are now going to the bookstore whenever they get a chance. It’s not uncommon to see lines of over 30 students. “We have students rushing in here right before lunch and waiting outside until the lunch block is over so they can come in and buy things again,” Ms. Scarfone said.  

Students have even gone so far as to beg Mr. Hoffmann and Ms. Scarfone to let them into the store during lunch. “There is still confusion and disappointment among the student body about the new policy. The bookstore is enforcing a rule in accordance with the new policy. Students often ask if we can make an exception, which we cannot,” said Ms. Scarfone. When asked if the bookstore has seen any financial effects since the new rule was implemented, Mr. Hoffmann said, “It has not decreased the demand or anything. It just made people plan ahead.”  

One student who feels that she has been impacted by the policy is Andrea Paniagua ’24, who said that she had always gotten her lunch from the bookstore before the rule went into effect. “Now that the bookstore is closed during lunch, I have been relying on the cafeteria food, which I do not really like,” Paniagua said. Gracie Hucks ’24 echoed Paniagua’s perspective. “I used to go to the bookstore every day for lunch because it has food that I enjoy and want to eat,” she said. 

At the same time, students like Luc Arellano ’25 who used to go to the bookstore every day for lunch are saying that the change has made a positive difference. “I think the bookstore being closed during lunch has benefitted me because I no longer eat only snacks all of my lunch period,” he said.  

Many students have wondered about how the snacks get priced, or what RE does with the money made. The common rumor that RE prices the snacks in the bookstore arbitrarily is false. Mr. Hoffmann clarified that “we do not choose the prices of the bookstore items; the prices come from the Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price, or the ‘list price.’” Ms. Scarfone also cleared up where the money made from the bookstore goes. “It [the money] goes back to the school. The bookstore is not the equivalent of a 7/11 franchise; everything goes back into the school,” she said. “We budget snacks, clothing, books, and we are supposed to cover that budget through sales,” she continued. 

In Ms. Scarfone’s view, “The bookstore is involved in many aspects of campus life and strives to promote community and school spirit on a daily basis,” and the RE community seems to agree. “The bookstore is vital to the Ransom community because there are so many essential items that a student might need. For example, they have all our textbooks and books for class, and even laptop chargers when we might forget or lose ours,” said Paniagua. “I seriously doubt that there is one person who has not purchased something from the bookstore. I know people who have made going to the bookstore a part of their daily routine,” added Carlota Escudero ’24. 

For Paniagua, the bookstore is special not just because of the things you can buy. It’s also about the people.  “They [Ms. Scarfone and Mr. Hoffman] have both memorized my name because I go so frequently. Ms. Scarfone sometimes even asks me how soccer is going and how I am doing in my classes. The bookstore has given me an opportunity to get to know two people I would have never met otherwise,” she said.