Music may be what the Virgin Megastore is best known for, but the company will soon be chanting a new tune.
The store is looking to add books at about 20 locations in the U.S. and Canada, in part to help protect it from depressions in the music business.
Books will play an integral role in Virgin's efforts to reposition its music stores as "lifestyle hubs," according to Dave Alder, chief marketing officer of the Virgin Entertainment Group, the North American subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group empire. "We don't want to be pigeonholed by music," said Alder. Indeed, across the chain, Harry Potter has helped make fiction Virgin's bestselling book section, outselling music-related titles.
To create a boutique feel in its mega retailing spaces and to raise the profile of books, Virgin has been testing themed "marketplace tables" at nine of its stores this summer, cross-merchandising music, film, books, apparel and accessories.
In September, the Virgin Mega in New York's Times Square will be the first to fully embrace the company's new lifestyle emphasis. Currently in the midst of a three-month makeover, the finished store will display as many as 50 cross-merchandising tables with rotating themes.
Although book buying will continue to be handled by corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, Virgin will move to genre buying early next year.