Bookstore chain tries to find new ways for customers to interact with media
A new concept bookstore that was unveiled Friday by Borders Group Inc. in its hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich., is on its way to New England.
The new concept is designed to give customers an unprecedented interaction with books and music. Borders plans to open 14 stores in the new design this year. The first one in New England will open in Southbury, Conn., in early May.
In mid-June, the company plans to open a concept store in the Wareham Crossing plaza off Route 28 in Wareham.
The Ann Arbor store is 28,900 square feet and employs 75 people, according to Borders spokeswoman Kolleen O’Meara. The size and staffing are similar to what is seen in traditional Borders locations.
While similar in size, the new stores offer significant additions to the old Borders design. In addition to aesthetic changes in architecture and interior decor, the new stores will contain “digital centers” that will allow customers to create custom CDs with songs downloaded from a Borders music database, explore their genealogy and even publish their own books.
The stores will place special emphasis on categories that the bookstore chain finds to be most popular. This will be done through “shop within a shop” sections based on such topics as travel, cooking and wellness, as well as a children’s department and section devoted to graphic novels.
For now, the special features will only appear in 14 locations nationwide, but O’Meara said successful elements may be added to existing locations and more new locations are possible in the future.
“We’re going to take a year to look at the stores and evaluate how we’re doing,” she said.
The new stores reflect a new approach to competing with online retailers that Borders CEO George Jones is hoping will put his company well ahead of online and other box-store retailers.
“This is a completely new shopping experience,” Jones said in a written statement.
A.J. Bauer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.