Bigger, better, more beautiful are just a few words that describe Le James Bookstore’s newly renovated digs at 680 Sherbrooke West. Of course, extensive, enhanced and efficient work just as well.
Regardless how you describe it, the upgraded location, slated to have its “soft launch” this Friday, August 24, will greatly enhance customer experience, whether through greater selection of books and merchandise; built-in places for people to gather, chat and charge their phone; or its convenient location on the edge of the downtown campus.
“This marks a significant improvement for the Bookstore in virtually every facet,” says Jason Kack, Manager of Le James. “It’s a night and day difference.”
To begin with, the “new and improved” Le James brings together all the Bookstore’s retail activities, which, for the last two years had been divided among a number of smaller locales. “Aside from a few administrative offices, all our operations are now under one roof,” says Alison Brown, Marketing and Merchandising Manager at Le James. “From the student perspective the most important thing is that anything retail-related is found here.”
Bigger is better
The spacious two-floor local – which comes in at approximately 12,000 square feet compared to 3,400 square feet at the old location on Parc Avenue – grants students the convenience of one-stop shopping. All University merchandise – from text books and coursepacks to McGill sweatshirts, cufflinks and silk ties – can be bought here.
This efficiency is further augmented in an improved design which promotes the flow of customers. Extra cashes – from six at the Parc location to as many as 14 now – means that people on a mission to buy their books, hoodies or McGill coffee mugs as quickly as possible, can do just that.
Kack says that during the peak periods at the beginning of each semester, Le James was handling some 2,500 transactions a day. “I think we’ll see that number jump to 3,500 – 4,000 transactions, but service will be better because of the improved design and the added cashes.”
“We also suggest people buy their textbooks online because it saves time,” says Brown. “They can pick up their purchases in one business day at no extra charge.” Web pickups are also made in store.
However, while Le James has been designed for efficiency, it is also a place where people are encouraged to hang out.
Take a load off
Even before setting foot into the store, people are greeted by a beautiful wooden “bleacher” in front of the Bookstore entrance in the lobby of 680 Sherbrooke. “People come here, they sit, they lounge around, they gather,” says Brown. “We want them to feel a sense of community even before they come in to shop.”
The perimeter of ground-floor, where all the clothing and other McGill merch will be found, is one continuous bench where people can relax. The beautiful central staircase leading down to the basement level of the store, where all the books and course-related material can be found, has a middle area where people can gather. “We even had plugs installed so people can charge their phones and other devices,” says Kack. “We really want to make people feel welcome.”
That feeling is conveyed on the walls, where giant wall coverings welcome McGill’s international community in various languages.
And while the primary mandate of the Bookstore will always be to sell books, it is both spacious and flexible enough to now serve as a venue for events such as book launches and signings. Once the start-of-semester rush subsides, many of the textbook shelves will be removed to provide extra space.
“One of the great things is that this building is now owned by McGill,” says Kack. “It’s starting to become more and more of a campus building and more of a destination.”