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MIT student blogger Snively '11

The Coop by Snively '11

What's a coop? You'll find out!

I go to college.


Here’s the thing about college, every single college has books. Books come from one of three places: Internet, Library, or Bookstore. Which of these three am I going to talk about? Well, I can’t very well talk about the ENTIRE INTERNET because you’d be here for the rest of your life, which for a lot of people, is perfectly acceptable. Don’t look at me like that, I know you’re one of them! ;)

Libraries are cool and all, and I may blog about one ore two later, but today I want to talk about the MIT bookstore. Almost every college out there has a bookstore, most named something like this:

~> The Cornell Store
~> Columbia University Bookstore
~> University of Kansas Bookstore
~> The UCI Bookstore

Our bookstore doesn’t actually have the word “Book” or “Store” in its name. In fact, it’s not even just our bookstore, we share it with Harvard. What’s it called?

The Coop.

The Coop is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. For one, it’s housed in multiple buildings (I know of at least 3). The Harvard Coop sells Harvard stuff, the MIT Coop sells MIT stuff. That makes sense, what doesn’t make sense is the pronunciation. How would you pronounce it? I, forever, thought it was pronounced Co-op (rhymes with low hop). I got to MIT and all of a sudden everybody was pronouncing it Coop (rhymes with hoop).

I’ve never told anybody this, but I spent the better part of 3 months agonizing in my head why it would be pronounced Coop instead of Co-op. Co-op just made so much sense! MIT and Harvard work together for their bookstore, joining in for a cooperative effort. Also, The Coop is based off of a cooperative business model. Each student gets a Coop Card and essentially buys into the bookstore, getting a refund at the end of the year equal to 7% of everything they buy. Why is it pronounced Coop!?

Well, at Harvard, it isn’t. It’s pronounced Co-op. You know what that means? That means we have a bookstore that doesn’t have the word “book” or “store” in its name, is located in 3 different places around Cambridge, sells different merchandise at each store, and is pronounced two different ways depending on where you go to school. It makes one wonder . . .

But enough of that, on to the important stuff. The Coop at MIT is one of my favorite stores. If you ever need anything MIT related, The Coop is the place to go. The store can be divided into three main sections: Books, clothes, and dorm stuff. Check out how many jackets and sweatshirts they have!

A bunch of sweatshirts and jackets at The Coop

They also sell a ton of shirts

A bunch of shirts at The Coop


A bunch of hats at The Coop

and socks

A bunch of socks at The Coop

Oh, um, I should probably mention, I forgot to take pictures of the actual books at The Coop.

What else is there to spend all of your hard earned TechCash on? How about a leather portfolio?

Leather Portfolio

or binders?

MIT Binders

They also have some neat presents for friends and family, like this spiffy IHTFP pennant.

IHTFP Pennant

or an entire display of stuffed beavers!

Stuffed Beavers

They sell all the software staples like Adobe and Mathematica, board games, puzzles, food, and other goodies like that as well. It’s also air-conditioned, which is a definite plus (and not always a luxury students get to enjoy). I’ve been known to spend an hour in The Coop and walk out with an armful of new toys and a guilty conscious due to my compulsory need to spend TechCash on neat stuff! I remember one day I walked out with a Scrabble board, 2 Rubik’s cubes (Revolution and greyscale), a dog bone, and Christmas ornament.

Luckily, if you’re interested in buying a bunch of MIT gear and you don’t have access to campus, they have a website that you can peruse. What’s your favorite thing on there? What would you buy?

52 responses to “The Coop”

  1. Star says:

    Like I said before, love how you blog more than everyone else put together, ever, times 53.5862, plus a bit more. Also, how your posts are just SO random. Basically, Snively = best blogger ever. Sorry, had to be said smile

  2. Isshak says:

    Aaaaaah ! Beaver attack !!!
    By the way, I now know why MIT gives so much financial aid, they make theur money from the MIT accessories and apparel ! Oh that’s smart ^^ .

    Isn’t coop that rhymes with hoop the correct prononciation ? I thought it was, since “oo” is suppose to rhyme with “hoop”. Or maybe I’m just weird.
    Lol are you advertising ? ^^’ (and how could have you forgotten the books!)

  3. paul, karen, laura, mitra, jkim, chris, derrick, melis, anthony, lulu, evan and keri are the best.

  4. Cody Dean says:

    Awesome post! I have always wondered how it was pronounced. I love college bookstores. Again, congrats on the blog job! ..looking forward to future posts!

    Best wishes!

  5. Libin Daniel says:

    Awesome, the Coop. MIT always does things differently. Simply Awesome. Hey Snively, why don’t you give us the next blog as something related to the Chapel?
    I think its great!

  6. Nihar says:

    Omgg!!! I want MIT-related merchandise!!!Now~!!

    Hey Michael! any idea whether The Coop offers international shipping of items??(at whatever extra cost!)??

    Great post!

  7. Isshak says:

    Same question then Nihar, but without the “at whatever extra cost” (^^’) !! An MIT sweater during the Harmattan would be nice..

  8. Karen says:

    I never even considered pronnouncing it anything other than “coop” until you mentioned it, actually. Hrm. Good thing I didn’t apply to Harvard, I suppose smile

    Their website is quite fun – I spent about 45 mins on there the day before EA decisions came out picking out a sweatshirt for my mom to buy. I guess we were both equally disappointed ^^;

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do MIT students wear a lot of MIT gear? or is that kinda weird?

  10. Nihar says:

    Hey Isshak!!
    They do provide International shipping! I just bought three awesome shirts!!
    But the thing is…they havent mentioned the shipping cost anywhere in the bill.I guess it just turns up when the credit card is charged…..anyway..m all psyched to receieve my first ever MIT apparell!!

    **Are you making fun of us obsessed prefrosh Michael? wink *

  11. Hawkins says:

    When I visited in September I saw a lot of students wearing MIT gear. That may have been a result of the fresh fervor of freshmen, but I know I’ll be sporting the MIT stuff pretty often myself. I love the COOP! I too thought at first that it was pronounced co-op…

  12. Hyun Jin says:

    You have to mention the friendly staff too.
    When I visited in November and bought myself a MIT sweater, they asked if I was a student there. My response was a slightly embarrassed “no.” At which they wished me good luck with the applications. smile None of the other college bookstores did that.

    …and I always thought it was pronounced coop because it had something to do with birds…

  13. Lauren says:

    LOL I want the IHTFP pennant, haha. Actually, I don’t want it yet – I will wait until I am suffering through my first bunch of MIT finals next year! Anyway, it is pretty funny that you first thought of pronouncing “Coop” as “Co-op” – I have been hanging around Harvard Square/Kendall Square for a very long time and only found out about a year ago that the stores are called “coop” because they used to be the MIT/Harvard Cooperative something or other. I am impressed that you thought of that first thing. But I am pretty sure people usually say “Coop” like hoop anyway. grin

  14. Kes says:

    Too bad the Coop is ridiculously overpriced (like pretty much all college bookstores)

  15. FYI, all, the physical locations of the COOP sell more merchandise than is available online. This might be obvious when you can’t find things like the IHTFP pennant or the stuffed beaver online, but it is also true of some things you’d expect to see online .. like MIT MOM and MIT DAD merchandise (with the strange exception of hats, which are online).

    After getting my acceptance, I wanted to get MIT <PARENT> shirts as a token of thanks for everything they did to help me along the way. I couldn’t find any online, I emailed a Coop employee and was told there was none .. I didn’t believe them.. so I called a friend who is a current frosh and had her buy these things from the Coop in the Student Center and bring them home with her on Christmas break. So, they do exist!

    In Short: if you can’t find something you’d expect online, you’ll just have to wait until you are on campus..

    the end.


  16. dan says:

    oh all the things I would do to be able to give my parents that MIT shirt in March..

  17. Anonymous says:

    AAAHHH! I get my shirt tomorrow! It’s the black one with the “New!” “Contemporary!” MIT design (those are the exact words the Coop used).

  18. archimedes says:

    How scandalous is it to wear college gear from one college at some other college? Does it really just depend where you are?

  19. PS says:

    @archimedes: Try to use the “IHTFP” flag at Caltech, and see what happens =P

    I won’t comment about Coop before receive the response. Really

  20. Tong says:

    Hmm… I can’t find bumper stickers on the COOP website. Does that mean I have to wait till CPW to get one? Ehh… My car needs one!

  21. Keri says:

    Anonymous @7:49: Because they assume any girl who wants to wear it just isn’t feminine enough to wear a babydoll t-shirt.

    This is not the case.

    This is also why I don’t own one.

  22. Piper says:

    BWAHA the COOP. I love that store. Conveniently located near East Campus, too.

  23. Jing Jing says:


    My high school’s mascot is also the beaver (her name is Bev!) so ya I have a thing for beavers…. =D

    Also, I’m sure that there are apparel that make fun of Caltech at COOP, right? If so, which do y’all recommend? (My friend has one of those “MIT; because not everyone can go to caltech” shirts so I wanna counter that shirt =D)

  24. Anonymous says:

    My favorite thing: a stuffed Tim. (In fact, I love them so much that I already have one). wink

  25. asm says:

    Whenever I saw the logo I pronounced it “Co-Op”, but when I saw this post, I thought it was “Coop”. Weird…

    If I get in, the first thing I’m going to do is get myself some MIT gear! An MIT shirt would be pretty sweet…

  26. Kevin X says:

    Ah you used the word peruse…… thats an SAT word…. hehe

    Overall, AWESOME POST. It’s definitely one of those tidbits of MIT life only a student can tell!

  27. Aditi says:

    the binder!
    the beaver!!!!
    i want!
    NOW :(

    great post snively smile
    and yeah i’d never have thought it was anything but coop (not co-op coop , regular cooop , oh well raspberry )

  28. Heidi says:

    Hi Snively – so I’ve never met you, but it’s nice to ‘meet’ you! Per Paul’s reminder – us kids down the street call it the Coop, too. (But we check for cheap textbooks instead.)

    For ultimate confirmation of this, I checked with my dormmates:
    “Of course we call it the Coop.”
    “But I heard MIT calls it the Co-op…” So I guess it goes both ways smile

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’ve loved the coop so much ever since i was 5! when i was little i had this amazing dress from there and this little bunny rabbit that said “somebody from MIT loves me” that my brother got me when he went there (do they still have those if not they need to bring them back because i want to buy them for my friends who aren’t cool enough for MIT)

    honestly I’m saving up money so i can go shopping at the coop during CPW

    thanks for the post!

  30. Snively says:

    @First Anonymous
    People here wear MIT gear all the time, no worries. I think I speak for many freshmen when I say that one of our favorite shirts are the DAPER “I Passed My Swim Test!” shirts that say “Because there’s more to life than being really really ridiculously smart.”

    As for how scandalous it is, I always do a silent “wtf” when I see a shirt or sweatshirt from another college here, but that’s just me. I’m not sure how others react.

    @ 7:04 Anonymous
    I’m sorry, although I like programming, I’m not actually EECS, I’m MechE.

    I even have a hard time finding bumper stickers here. I ended up having to buy window clings, but I’ve seen bumper stickers around so maybe only special people can buy them.

  31. AwayfromHome says:

    I’m seriously considering shipping an MIT equation shirt overseas. Even if I don’t get in, that’s a shirt I could wear wherever I go–once someone figures it out, I can either be long gone or say “Well, made you think, didn’t it?”

    BTW; tell me they have MIT bottle openers offline. Only for those who are of legal drinking age, of course.

  32. Sh1fty says:

    i bought a dark blue MIT hoodie and the “let there be light” t-shirt. i was actually going to see if they’ve got some good cheap books but i got too distracted when i was buying shirts so i forgot :( i also forgot to buy a winter hat :(
    btw there are 5 coop stores smile

  33. Sam R. '12 says:

    OMG!!!! So MUCH MIT stuff!!!!! Can’t wait to get there and buy one of everything they have when i go to CPW!!! Love the beavers, they look so cool!!! I always wondered how the Coop looked and all the stuff they had (its not the same experience on-line) and now you put pictures up. Thank Snively!!!!
    -sam r.

  34. Carolina says:

    Currently wearing my favorite t-shirt, one that I purchased at the COOP this fall =D…

    E/c^2 (-1)^1/2 (PV)/(nR)

    Every time I wear it I get puzzled looks, extremely focused expressions, and then laughter when I finally explain it =]

  35. Javie says:

    Amusing post!

    It’s pronounced as “KOH op”

    Co-op is short for Co-operative store.


  36. Akshay says:

    Hey Snively
    A very interesting post. Besides studies you need to buy books and all stuff for yourself. So sharing something like The Coop is definitely a new information about MIT’s way of doing things and the name just suggests that.

    I would like to buy an MIT sweatshirt. And a portfolio as it looks very elegant in the pic.


  37. Twilight Bob says:

    I figured out the MIT math equation shirt the first time I saw it–I hope I’m admitted just so I can wear one of those.

  38. Nick says:

    That’s how admissions should work, they give everyone an equation and they must figure out whether it says they are in or not. (Just imagine a letter reading “f/m,c/(pi),(y-b)/x,ln(-1)/(pi),d/r,d/r,10^(1/ln(10)),c/(pi)” personally I want a letter that says that even if it is only in plain English)

    FYI it is hard making those off the top of your head

  39. Anonymous says:

    Snively’s blogs own cuz he’s EECS

  40. Snively’11,

    Thanks for shedding some light on da ‘coop’ versus co-op thing. I have myself wondered about it for a while now. I used to call it da ‘Co-Op’ until my child started attending MIT and started to redicule me for mispronouncing it.

    By the way, I love the Coop. I make it a point to spend some time there every time I visit MIT. I just wish they had a better selection of winter coats and T-Shirts. The Cornell store has some awesome collection of jackets/coats. In fact I bought one during my last visit to Cornell even though no one from my family goes to school at Cornell.

    A Parent

  41. Mark says:

    This post proves once again how beneficial mitadmissions is in providing a good depiction of MIT life. Great job snively.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Tell me…why don’t they make the Maroon MIT Math Equation T Shirt in women’s sizes!?

  43. Jorge says:

    So you thought it was pronounced co-op…You gave up your cover! I bet that’s the way to tell between a Harvard student and a MIT one, so you must be a spy!

  44. Tanmay says:

    I’d buy one out of everything! At the same time, I would avoid wearing all that outside the campus (a lot like Anthony ’09)…(if I make it there, of course!) wink

  45. MITDad says:

    ….3 Regular Coops….3 Specialty Coops…1 E-Coop…just for the record

  46. Muz says:

    I’d pronounce it co-op, but seeing it spelled as ‘coop’ would make me pronounce it as ‘coop’ raspberry

    @Nick: Lol, I’d panic if I got a letter in scrambled English. Getting accepted or rejected is just one of those things that makes it hard to read plain English XD

  47. I’m hoping it’s natural to want to buy all that stuff. I have a MIT pen at home, and no one is allowed to use it but me. I’m selfish like that.

  48. Piper says:

    @Javie – Sure, it’s short for Co-op, but it’s still pronounced coop, like hoop =P

    @Jing Jing – I haven’t seen any about Caltech, but the shirt does exist (in the reverse) for Harvard. No offense, Heidi ^.^

  49. WTBSAlumni says:

    Great to read about the Coop. Back in my days (1977-1981) the MIT Coop sold records/LP’s (i.e. analog CD’s). The coolest thing about the Coop was they had CREDIT CARDS, which allowed me to buy way too many records. My first month’s bill was a whopper, I got a job, and spent the rest of my freshman year paying down my initial Coop balance.

    When I visited the Coop with my daughter (applying for Fall 2008 admission) over the summer we visited the Coop. A bit smaller with no LP’s, but still extremely cool compared to on-campus stores at other schools in our travels.

  50. confused says:

    E/c^2 (-1)^1/2 (PV)/(nR)…….i dint get it..someone explain…

  51. confused says:

    E/c^2 (-1)^1/2 (PV)/(nR)…… was it..yay..”MIT”!

  52. donaldzmom says:

    My MIT Mom T-shirt was my favorite Christmas present! But I note that Harvard has a whole line of proud family clothing on the website sweatshirts, long sleeve shirts etc. Why doesn’t MIT have more? We MIT parents are just as proud of our progeny as the folks at the other school in Cambridge! How about it Coop?