There is something so comforting about settling into a nice, relaxing atmosphere with a good book, and some kind of cozy snack or beverage to enjoy with your read.
Barnes & Noble seems to know that, which is why in an attempt to help bolster some lackluster sales, it has decided to launch a full-service dining business with its first ever bookstore/hybrid concept restaurants, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.
The restaurants will essentially be extended bookstores, and will come equipped to serve a full menu with wine and beer. For this venture, Barnes & Noble partnered with the international design and concept firm of AvroKO and The Branstetter Group, which is a Santa Monica-based hospitality management and advisory firm.
David Deason, Barnes & Noble's vice president of development, told the Sacramento Bee that the new concept stores are "more of a step forward … a new transition. Throughout retail, (store operators) are trying to lift the experience to a new level. We understand that, and we think our customers will appreciate the experience they find here…
"Books are the star. It’s still a bookstore."
Apparently, printed word is struggling to sell, and some Wall Street estimates suggest that Amazon has actually cut into B&N's market share by more than 25 percent since 2010. While Deason seems to deny that the restaurant concept is in response to B&N's annual sales revenue plunge, it seems to make sense.
Customers will enter the new conceptual B&N locations into an expansive open-floor space, where they will be able to look at a 180-degree book displays equipped with self-serve "kiosks," which makes the shopping experience more manageable and seamless.
Deason promises that customers will have the opportunity to "buy a book anywhere in the store, including the restaurant."
The restaurant will come in at 2,600 square feet, with seating for 140 (which includes some outdoor seating) and an all-day menu, as well as table service. An entree will run patrons between $14 and $26 on average.
Since the beginning of retail, the idea has been to get shoppers into the store, where they tend to buy something no matter what their original plan was," Peter Schaub, a New York-based marketing and branding expert said to the Sacramento Bee. "I’m sure other retailers would do just about anything to get shoppers into their stores like that."
Adds Deason: "We know we have a lot to learn, and we welcome that. We want this to be a special place … and we will work to keep improving."