Miami Dade College Bookstore Unfairly Stifling Competition, Says Student Entrepreneur
via Wikimedia Commons
Buy cheap, sell high. The motto is more capitalistic than Mitt Romney's hair. Miami Dade College student Mike Rozinsky knows it all too well. Last year the sophomore business major started his own company buying fellow MDC students' used text books and selling them online. He made enough to pay his tuition.
But now he says the Wolfson campus book store is trying to shut down his start-up. His advertisements have been torn down, he claims, and he's been threatened with arrest a dozen times.
"I went to school to learn about how to start a business," Rozinsky says. "I manage to start earning some income, and these guys want to take away the American dream."
A spokesman for eFollett, the company that runs the Wolfson bookstore, did not return requests for comment. But a store manager denies tearing down Rozinsky's posters and says the student broke an agreement not to poach customers.
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"He's causing a lot of problems," says manager Ron McField. "He doesn't even have a license to be doing business."
Rozinsky says the only reason he started his business in the first place was because the bookstore -- part of a national chain -- was so cheap. When he tried to sell his own $100 text book back to the store, Rozinsky was turned down because of a tiny bit of water damage.
"The are a giant company so they can set their prices," says Rozinsky. "Of course I was a little resentful, but then I had a great idea": buy all the books that the bookstore rejected, then sell them to students online.
At first, Rozinsky even approached McField for help. He offered to leave a stack of business cards at the bookstore. Whenever they rejected a used book, they could tell the student to try selling it to Mike instead.
But McField vetoed the idea. Efollett had a rule against it, he said, and he didn't want to see Rozinsky chatting up customers inside or in front of his store. Rozinsky says he stuck to the deal by hiring someone to pass out fliers on public property down the street from the bookstore. He also paid to put up a few larger banners near campus.
But McField says the student broke the agreement.
"He used to come into my bookstore and solicit people," he says. "He still does it in my line. He will buy from them before they sell to me, then turn around and sell them to me at a higher price."
Rozinsky insists he only sells his books online. And he says that McField has a vendetta against him.
"As soon as I pass out my fliers, I can't regulate what happens to them," Rozinsky says. "Maybe Ron sees them and gets spiteful towards me."
The student says McField has called campus security on him nearly a dozen times, but they back off once he explains that he's not selling on school property.
The standoff came to a boil at the end of last semester. That's when Rozinsky says McField tore down one of his banners.
"I saw him take it down, but I wasn't quick enough to catch him," Rozinsky says. "What was I going to do, punch him?"
McField says he wouldn't stoop so low. "He saw that his sign was missing so he accused me," he says. "He even called to the police... and lied to them." No one was charged.
Rozinsky says he's being harassed but won't quit. He's making money, and saving MDC students some serious cash.
"Eighty-five percent of students at Miami Dade are on financial aid," he says. "Yet, the bookstore sells books for $100 that are advertised on Amazon for $5."
"I thought up an idea and I rolled with it," he adds. "I'm making OK money where I can now pay the rent, but I'm not a millionaire."
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