In an interview with PW earlier this fall, Borders CEO Mike Edwards said that as more books are sold in digital formats, retailers need to redeploy the space they have used to sell trade titles. At Borders that has meant adding more educational children’s toys and games and branded books. It began the process a year ago in fall 2009 as part of the repurposing of its music and DVD space.
“We felt we had an opportunity to create an even larger kids' statement, and we think we have accomplished this by adding additional books and nonbook product from leading brands,” says Borders spokesperson Mary Davis. Besides partnering with Build-A-Bear Workshop to introduce its Craftshop product line, for example, the nation’s number two bricks-and-mortar bookseller is also carrying the line’s Holly & Hal Moose: Our Uplifting Christmas Adventure book, a Holly & Hal DVD, and Hal Moose plush toy.
Borders also created an American Girl destination in more than 500 superstores for both books and craft products. And it is adding more titles from Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street, as well as educational games, puzzles, and stuffed toys from both brands. The stores are now carrying Harry Potter and Star Wars-themed LEGO sets; puzzles and role-playing games from Melissa & Doug; and science activity kits from Scientific Explorer and SmartLab as well.
Nor has Borders neglected the look of its children’s sections. Last month it completed a reorganization of both book and nonbook product so that everything is now shelved chronological by age within the section and within the brands themselves. “We reorganized by age,” says Davis, “to make it easier for parents and families to quickly find what they’re looking for.” Although it’s too early to tell what the impact of the changes will be this holiday season, she notes that “we’ve seen a positive response from customers.”