For four decades, Edward McKay Used Books & More has kept things simple: Customers at the Capital Boulevard store peruse the rows of shelves to find the perfect book or vinyl record to take home.
But times change, even for stores that sell old books.
The store, part of a small chain based in North Carolina, is undergoing a technology overhaul that will computerize inventory and other customer transactions.
The change should make it easier for customers to find books, video games and music, and to earn store credit for items they bring in, said Jennifer Keys, general manager of the store.
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The technology update is part of a larger renovation that will better organize the store’s thousands of items and freshen up the building.
“We’re really moving forward and catching up with the rest of the world,” Keys said.
At Edward McKay, customers can bring in old books, games and music and receive store credit for the items. Now, that credit comes in the form of a piece of paper customers must present at the cash register.
The new computer system will store customers’ credit information. No paper necessary.
“It will be easier for them to just stop by and spend it,” Keys said.
Eventually, the system will also allow staff to search the store’s inventory to determine what’s in stock. That could cut down on customers wandering aimlessly looking for a specific title.
Keys said Edward McKay’s customers are understanding of the old-fashioned way of doing things.
“We’ve survived this long without, and I think we could continue to survive without it, but this is what customers know,” Keys said.
The upgrades are integral to the local chain’s survival, said Janet Elliott, vice president of retail operations for Edward McKay stores.
“We are constantly looking for ways to stay relevant,” she said. “Every business has to take a step back every once in a while and say, ‘We really need to refresh.’”
The stores are named for an Army veteran who opened a bookstore in Fayetteville in 1974. The company has grown to include a location in Raleigh, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The original Fayetteville store is still open.
The company is built on giving customers exactly what they want, Elliott said. Recently, the stores expanded their selection of games and added a youth section.
“We are going to go where customers say they want to go,” Elliott said. “I think that’s one thing that’s really kept us going.”
Raleigh’s store is the third Edward McKay bookstore to be renovated. Greensboro’s store was renovated in October 2013, and Winston-Salem’s store was fixed up earlier this month.