RALEIGH — When talking about the new location of Stones Education Superstore, owner David Madison didnt know where to start. This is a different store, he said, than the one that called Tryon Road home for 42 years.
Madison and his wife, Carol, bought Stones School Supply in 2005 and quickly changed its name to better reflect their vision. Once known as a supply store for teachers, the Madisons have worked to make it a resource for anyone working with children.
I knew when we bought it that the building would not work for what we wanted to do, David Madison said.
The new location at Trinity and Chapel Hill roads just outside of Cary is the geographic center of our customer base, he said.
The Madisons worked with architect David Maurer to design a building that resembles a train depot with high ceilings and an open floor plan.
As he looked around the finished product, David Madison said, This is better than I envisioned.
Natural light floods the space, a result of the many green elements.
You could have all the lights off and still be fine, he said. This is a prototype for what other businesses should be doing.
All interior bulbs are Cree energy-efficient products. An 18-foot-diameter paddle fan circulates enough air to cut heating and cooling costs by 25 percent.
Outside, a solar panel on the roof provides energy. The parking lot is lit by solar-panel LED lights, making them completely off the grid. A charging station is available for electric cars.
David Madison sees all of these elements as an opportunity to educate. A TV monitor near the front entrance provides an interactive program detailing the stores actual energy use.
I could see a fourth-grade field trip to see energy conservation in action, David Madison said. Theres a lot of cool stuff going on.
The changes at Stones dont stop with the building itself. With more floor space, the Madisons are finally able to stock merchandise that is in synch with their goals.
We want to be a resource for responsible adults working with kids, Carol Madison said.
She said a steady stream of grandparents shopped at Stones for holiday gifts. Gift-wrapping is offered year-round.
The expanded toy section covers nearly half the stores space. The toys are often what you might find in a preschool, she said.
One area has resources specifically selected for children with special needs.
These toys have worthwhile value beyond the cardboard box, David Madison said.
Twice a month, free events are held for preschoolers. On Valentines Day, there will be crafts and a snack.
This is a new thing for us, Carol Madison said, adding that a book club of sorts is in the works for older children.
Added David: We think were doing something good for the community.
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