Fresno State’s Kennel Bookstore is now allowing students to wear their backpacks while shopping.
The new policy change, which started this semester, eliminates backpack checks and having customers store backpacks in designated cupboards.
A wave of relief came over sophomore Naydy Hernandez as she walked directly through the sliding doors of the Kennel Bookstore. Hernandez looked around, expecting to be reprimanded for not putting her backpack away. The instructions to stow her backpack in the designated cupboards never came.
“I used to have to wait for the backpack check-in lines to be short enough so I had time to purchase my textbooks between classes,” Hernandez said. “Now, I am able to walk right in and find my textbook, then pay for it and be off to my next class.”
According to Curt Parkinson, director of the bookstore, Hernandez is not alone in her excitement.
“We understand that it is not a lot of fun to stand in line to check in and out your backpack,” Parkinson said. “Students are a lot happier now. We have received a lot of positive feedback.”
Parkinson admits that he had taken students’ complaints into account and had actually debated with the idea for several years.
“Why not now?” Parkinson said.
According to Parkinson, allowing students to keep their backpacks has already resulted in a “friendlier environment” within the bookstore. He also says there will be an ultimate improvement in sales.
Despite these improvements, this newfound convenience has only been guaranteed through the 2015-2016 school year.
“It is really a shame that 99 percent of the students are honest, but there is always that 1 percent out there,” Parkinson said. “It ruins it for everyone else.”
In order to provide this convenience for students, Parkinson hired 12 new employees to serve strictly as security for the upper textbook level of the bookstore.
These new employees were subjected to an eight-hour training process in which they learned the skills necessary to prevent theft within the bookstore. Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity is the main focus for security, according to Jorge Leal, one of the new security personnel hired.
“We keep an eye out for suspicious people,” said Leal. “People who open their backpacks inside the store and people who continuously come in are who we keep an eye out for most.”
By hiring these new staff members, Parkinson ensures that at least four employees are always on the clock, as extra sets of eyes on the upper level. This is three times the amount of security that the bookstore has had in the past.
This change, according to cashier Rachel Yang, improved productivity for the bookstore and students alike.
“I’ve noticed that students are much nicer to our employees,” Yang said. “It has enabled them to get in and out of the bookstore much faster.”
As an employee at the bookstore for over a year and a half, Yang has directly seen the effects this change has had on customer happiness. While Yang admits that having to be aware of the suspicious activity makes her job more challenging, the improvements in the customers’ attitudes has made it all worth it.
“I got the chance to tell several students that they no longer had to lock up their backpacks,” Yang said. “Some of their faces actually lit up.”
With the change being implemented just this semester, Parkinson is currently unable to provide numbers regarding sales or the amount of theft.
While numbers from inventory and sales will impact the final decision for a more permanent change, the general increase in sales and positive feedback from students have allowed for this backpack trend to continue through the rest of the school year.
“I would love even more positive feedback,” Parkinson said. “I hope the students are happy with the change, and I hope we can continue with it in future semesters.”