Coop Revamps Layout, Drops Credit Card in Major Makeover

* Dept. Store's Multi-Million Dollar Overhaul Wins Praise

It's moving time at every dorm on campus-and even The Coop is getting into the act.

The department store and Harvard Square landmark is in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation and reorganization, the largest such project since The Coop assumed its current Mass. Ave. perch in the 1920s.

The renovations-which began in June and are scheduled for completion during this school year-will completely restructure The Coop buildings.

The former book building has been divided into two sections on the first floor: the Brattle St. Coop, which now houses insignia clothing; and the Palmer St. Coop, which features prints and Harvard gifts.

The renovations in each of these departments has been completed, and they are now open for business.

Renovations upstairs in the Palmer and Brattle buildings, which are scheduled to begin in October, will involve a wall treatment, flooring and a new layout. Upon completion, the second floor will house dorm items, school supplies and small electronics. The third floor will continue to stock textbooks.

Together, the Palmer and Brattle buildings will form a "collegiate Coop" geared toward students and visitors to Harvard, said Coop President Jeremiah P. Murphy Jr.'73.

Meanwhile, the main Coop building at 1400 Mass. Ave., which contains the historic Great Hall, is closed for construction and will reopen in November as a new bookstore dubbed The Harvard Square Coop.

The attached neighboring building, which once contained stationery and school supplies and currently stocks dorm room items, will soon be taken over by BankBoston, which owns the property-forcing The Coop to consolidate and reorganize its merchandise.

"It's really time for The Coop to change its attitude and strategy," Murphy said. "This is the first time in 75 years that we're back down to the bare walls."

A Coup for Book-Lovers

While some say the building's renovations may make the new book building more closely resemble the spacious Barnes and Noble superstores found throughout the nation, in fact little is changing in the two-year relationship between The Coop and the bookselling giant.

In 1995, The Coop hired Barnes and Noble to manage its bookselling operation. The company has since managed the bookstore in strategies devised by The Coop's elected board of directors. This arrangement will continue when the bookstore is reopened.

Some local booksellers recently expressed concern about Barnes and Noble's presence in the Square. But Murphy said the renovations should not increase such worries.

"It's not going to be a Barnes and Noble-it's still The Coop," he said. "We hired Barnes and Noble as manager of our operations in September 1995. If it had any impact, [other booksellers] would have had concerns up to this date."