McGill’s Le James Bookstore on avenue du Parc is scheduled to move its operations to its other location on Sherbrooke Street during the summer of 2018. Currently, the store on avenue du Parc sells textbooks and course materials while the one at 680 Sherbrooke sells more general merchandise such as apparel and accessories. But after buying the entirety of the office space at 680 Sherbrooke this past summer, McGill intends to renovate the Sherbrooke location and sell books there as well.
This is the second time the bookstore has changed its location in the past two years. In 2016, the store moved to its current location as a result of the university’s decision to use its former space at 3420 McTavish for the Desautels Faculty of Management Master of Business Administration Program, now called the Armstrong Building. Students’ opinions about this 2016 relocation have been mixed, according to Ashley Prodisteanu, U2 Education student and sales associate at the store on avenue du Parc for two years.
“We’ve gotten a lot of complaints about [the avenue du Parc store], saying that it’s too far,” Prodisteanu said. “I think that it’s a great idea that we’re moving since it will be more practical, especially being in the same location with the clothing store.”
The size constraints on avenue du Parc have caused excessive queuing during the textbook rushes at the start of every semester. According to Phillipe Saad, U2 Arts student, this has made the purchase of course materials a negative experience.
“It takes a while to get my books and I’ve always tried to avoid getting them the first week because it takes like an hour,” Saad said.
Now, as part of the upcoming relocation of the avenue du Parc bookstore, McGill will expand the 680 Sherbrooke location by connecting the bookstore to the floor below. The university hired a retail consulting firm to redesign the new space and plans to better accommodate the peak season by doubling the number of cash registers and creating more space to line up. The additional space will also be used to display more textbooks. Further, the bookstore plans to adapt to demand fluctuations over the course of the semester by providing more merchandise as students stop buying physical textbooks.
“What we want to make the new bookstore is a place where students actually want to go and where it feels like it’s part of the McGill community,” General Merchandise Manager Caroline Desroches said.
Desroches is optimistic about combining the stores in one central location.
“[The move] will also be good for the employees because they are going to form a team again,” Desroches said. “We’re going to have to evaluate [whether we need to employ more students] when we are there. Obviously, at rush and peak time, we need additional bodies.”
McGill aims to minimize disruption from the bookstore renovation on campus. Construction began on Feb. 12, with the 680 Sherbrooke bookstore closing for the next 19 weeks. In the meantime, it will be replaced by the smaller McGill Boutique, located on the same floor as the bookstore at 680 Sherbrooke. The boutique will make up for its small capacity by selling merchandise online as well as in store.
Meanwhile, the new bookstore will not affect any academic activities in 680 Sherbrooke, including the Ingram School of Nursing. The seasonal Le James Bookstore trailer will continue operating and will be marketed toward customers attending particular events on campus, such as graduation.
Aside from the new physical space of the store, Desroches explained that new products will be on display for the next school year. She recommended that students check Le James Bookstore’s social media for updates.
“We’re going to try some new brands that we haven’t tried before so I think everybody should keep a look out for that,” Desroches said. “We really have more flexibility with what we do now.”