"This is a time that offers us opportunities," says Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H. He is determined to seize as many opportunities as he can by moving his 4,000-square-foot bookstore, founded in 1898, 100 yards down the street and increasing its size to 10,000 sqaure feet. The store and a cafe—Herrmann is in discussions with Bread & Chocolate—will occupy the ground floor of a new building slated to open in May or June, 2013.
"It’s definitely a much larger space, and the city could support it," Herrmann told PW Daily. "As soon as Borders went out of business, sales jumped up between 40 and 50%, and we’ve pretty much sustained that." He calls the new building a "serendipitous" opportunity given that he had already decided to expand after the Concord Borders, one of the top-performing stores in the now defunct chain, closed. Despite the fact that Books-A-Million moved into the space, Herrmann continues to get business from former Borders customers.
Although Herrmann is in the planning stages for the new store, he says that he will expand all of the Gibson’s current sections, have a better events area, and a significantly larger children’s section. He is also toying with the possibility of adding an Espresso Book Machine.
Herrmann acknowledges that there are risks in expanding, but he is ready to forge ahead, and hopes other independent booksellers will also consider the gamble. "I think, depending on the city, if you can expand you should do it," says Herrmann. At a time when physical bookstores are under threat, he believes that booksellers should show their strength by having the best physical bookstores they can.