After closing last summer, the Curious George bookstore in Harvard Square Cambridge, Mass., is getting ready to reopen, with a new name, new owners, and a different product mix. The World’s Only Curious George Store will launch on April 28 at the same location with a selection of books for children up to age 8 and a lot more merchandise, all dedicated to the mischievous monkey created by longtime Cambridge residents Hans and Margret Rey.
“My wife and I had several conversations with Hillel Stavis and Donna Friedman [the former owners of the store]. Unfortunately nothing could be worked out,” says Adam Hirsch. Over the past few months, he and his wife, Jamie Hirsch, approached the owners of the Curious George name directly, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NBC Universal, to use the name and worked out a lease arrangement with the original store’s landlord.
“We had a different plan,” says Hirsch. “As much as my wife and I and our three kids love Curious George, it would be hard to make it as a stand-alone bookstore.” Instead the Hirsches will supplement Curious George books with other titles for young children, as well as a number of one-a-kind t-shirts and other children’s clothing, bibs, sippy cups, and magnets, which feature Curious George.
“With Amazon out there, you have to be one step ahead. This is a destination store,” adds Hirsch. “Come visit, and you’ll find things you won’t find anywhere else.” He also intends to capture customers’ email address and continue to reach out to them online at the store’s Web site with unique Curious George-themed merchandise.
Currently the Hirsches are in the midst of renovating the former bank space, where Stavis and Friedman opened their store 17 years ago. Although the exterior will remain primarily yellow and the logo has been replaced with Curious George on top of the world, literally, the interior is being completely redone. “Our goal is to create a wow factor,” says Hirsch.