The original El Corral Bookstore opened on the campus of Cal Poly in 1933. According to an advertisement in the Nov. 24, 1959,edition of El Mustang, a plush animal gift started at $1.90.
Today, the bookstore’s Web site sells a plush cow for $12.99. Though the times and the prices have changed, El Corral has always stayed the same.
“It has always been on campus and run as a non-profit organization, where the money goes back to the university,” said El Corral Marketing Manager Theresa Kaiser.
The University Union was built in 1968, and El Corral moved to its current location two years later. Kaiser said she believes the original location was in the basement of the Clock Tower building right off of Dexter Lawn.
The name El Corral came about because of ties with Cal Poly Pomona and the bookstore they opened called El Patio. Both campuses were working with a “Western theme,” Kaiser said. Cal Poly Pomona is now home to the Bronco Bookstore.
El Corral originally carried mainly school supplies and textbooks. Now everything from shirts and hats, to greeting cards and computer equipment can be found there. Students may complain about the high prices of textbooks at El Corral, but the on-campus location has done so well in the merchandise department that an additional store was added downtown.
Cal Poly Downtown focuses on providing Cal Poly emblematic merchandise to alumni and friends, according to the Web site. This satellite operation opened in 1993 and is located on Higuera Street.