ROY MAYNARD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Half Price Books will soon open a 9,000-square-foot location in The Village at Cumberland Park, the company has announced. The eclectic retailer of all things printed and recorded is slated to open in August.
Kathy Doyle Thomas, Half Price Books’ executive vice president and chief strategy officer, said the company views Tyler as a great, untapped market.
“We’ve done customer surveys and market research for years,” Ms. Thomas said in an interview on Monday. “And just recently, we were told by one agency that we’ve got to come to Tyler, because customers there are dying to have a store. And we said, ‘Well, as a matter of fact…’”
Opening stores in smaller cities - as opposed to big metropolitan areas such as Dallas and Atlanta - is a relatively new concept for the company.
“We do have single-store markets in other cities, such as Omaha (Nebraska) and Corpus Christi,” Ms. Thomas said. “And those stores can do very well for us. It’s all about getting the right store manager and the right employees. That’s always the real challenge.”
Tyler’s recent growth helped the company make the decision to add a location in The Village at Cumberland Park.
“We’ve looked at Tyler in the past, and I’ll admit I was one of the holdouts,” Ms. Thomas said. “I was afraid it would be a good weekend store, because you have lots of people coming into Tyler on the weekends to shop. But I was worried there wouldn’t be people inside the store on weekdays.”
It took a few trips to the region to convince her, she added.
“We realized Tyler is a great area, and (The Village at Cumberland Park) is a great, vibrant shopping center,” she said. “We really think we’ll do well there.”
Half Price Books’ business model is unique; about half of what it sells are new books, music, movies and other items; about half is used. It competes with online sales in a number of ways. It sells its own merchandise online, but it also provides customers will the kind of experience they can’t get online.
“We’re going to have all kinds of seating, and it’s really going to be a great shopping experience,” she said.
The company started in Dallas in 1972. According to its website, “Corporate dropout Ken Gjemre and fellow bibliophile Pat Anderson opened a used-book shop in an old laundromat in Dallas, Texas. They ran ads in the local paper, declaring ‘We Buy Books,’ and soon found themselves with a few thousand books and hordes of customers.”
It now has more than 120 stores nationwide, with new outlets in Decatur, Georgia and Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
The company has a very active literacy program and gets involved with each new community, Ms. Thomas said. And it offers special discounts to teachers and librarians.
“And since we hope to open on Labor Day weekend, we’ll have lots of sales going on, with a back-to-school focus,” she said. “If you need your copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ come on out and see us.”
The Village at Cumberland Park’s developers are scheduled to have the space ready for Half Price Books to start its build-out in July. The company is planning to open on Aug. 31.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Percentage of new and used items Half Price Books sells.
Books bought last month.
Yards of books, movies and music on store shelves nationwide.
The number of books donated to nonprofit groups so far this year.