Shopping Centers Today

AUG 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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By Matt Hudgins Barrington Books is bucking the store- closure trend among bookstores by open- ing a second store — called, appropriately enough, Barrington Books Retold — near its home market in Rhode Island. The independent retailer's opening of this 5,000-square-foot store at Garden City Center, a lifestyle shopping center in Cranston, R.I., underscores the growth potential of a bookstore format modified to offer not just books but also toys and gifts to a dedicated, local clientele. "There is a huge void for the read- ers in that West Bay area," said Jennifer Massotti, general manager of the original Barrington Books store, in Barrington, a community in Rhode Island's East Bay market. "We are amazed at the positive response we've had." The void to which Massotti refers stems from the 2011 clo- sure of Garden City Center's Borders bookstore, following Borders' bank- ruptcy protection filing and its liquida- tion of U.S. stores. Since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, hundreds of big-box bookstores have closed in the U.S. amid increasing competition from Amazon.com and other online retailers. Barrington Books has been around for nearly 30 years, but when the cur- rent owners bought the store, in 2008, dwindling book sales were already raising concerns, Massotti says. "It became im- mediately apparent that to survive as an independent, they needed to diversify," she said. This is why educational toys and gifts were added to the book offerings, she says. "It has become a one-stop shop for all of your gift-buying needs." Books now make up 40 percent of the store's sales, with toys and gifts accounting for the rest, at 30 percent each, Massotti says. Following the advice of customers to begin offering these additional wares enabled the company to boost sales and consequently to become expansion- minded. As early as 2012, Barrington Books owners Dana and Stephen Shech- tman identified Garden City Center as a good location for the next store. "It's a pedestrian-friendly, charming shopping center, and we wanted to be a part of that," Massotti said. "It fits the business model, the look and the feel that we have worked to establish here in our store." Garden City Center is midway through a multiyear renovation pro- gram. In 2013 the center razed the vacant Borders building to make way for new 38 S C T / A u g u s t 2 0 1 5 r e T a i l i n g T o d a y Bookstores' key to success: Sell gifts too

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