Barnes & Noble is back. After several years of declining sales and rising costs, the chain has found its footing and is opening thirty new, big box stores this year – its most extensive expansion in a decade. The company currently runs 600 stores.
These store openings are, of course, great news for the ink-on-paper book industry. It is also good news for the toy industry as Barnes & Nobles operates large, beautifully curated toy departments in its stores.
Kudos to James Daunt, Barnes & Noble CEO. In April 2022, I published this article on Mr. Daunt’s management philosophy, “Leadership Lessons from Barnes & Noble.” Mr. Daunt, who successfully turned around British book chain Waterstones, believes that book chains should allow individual stores to react to the tastes of the communities they serve.
When I wrote my article, I wrote that there was much toy retailers could learn from Mr. Daunt’s worldview. Here is how I put it:
The lesson learned from Barnes & Noble is that true success, whether you are a bricks-and-mortar toy or book retailer, comes from providing people with a reason to stay awhile, browse and even meander. In the case of the toy industry, more is more. The greater the variety and the more curated the toy store, the more experiential the store visit becomes. Spending time as a family, browsing aisles at a leisurely pace, and chancing upon the unexpected is the key to bringing in customers and getting them to purchase more than they ever intended.
If you haven’t been in a Barnes & Noble recently it might be worth a visit. You can find a good book and maybe learn something new. I’m going back.