On Wednesday, Penguin Random House Canada has opened a new "Penguin Shop" bookstore on the first floor of the tower that houses the company’s offices in Toronto.
The building, at 320 Front Street West, is close to both the Rogers Center sports arena and the iconic CN Tower. The 158-square-foot-store, which previously housed a shoe shine stand, offers a flexible space for the company to experiment with customer engagement and, according to PRH Canada COO Robert Wheaton, will function as “both a sales outlet and a kind of R&D Lab.”
“It’s a real investment in our ability to glean consumer insights," added PRH Canada publisher Kristin Cochrane. "And what’s more, it gives our staff the opportunity to interact with book buyers. The news that we were opening a store has really opened up some of their [the staff’s] creativity and the way they are thinking about events.”
The store offers a flexible display space featuring giant painted book spines—presently featuring a range of mostly contemporary titles such as Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Angela Liddon's The Oh She Glows Cookbook and Wayne Gretzky's 99: Stories of the Game—done up to look like classic Penguin editions. The spines then slide out from the wall to reveal library-style shelving offering either books or merchandise. The spines can easily be changed to promote new titles.
In all, the store offers some 300 individual titles for sale, many of which are part of the featured "Penguin Picks" staff selections from the company's editors, designers, and other employees. Additionally, the store heavily features Penguin-branded merchandise, from tote bags to mugs to notebooks, nearly all of which is currently being sourced from the U.K. But executives said the company is looking into producing local, Canadian-themed Penguin products.
"We are continually in search of innovative ways to bring the books we are so proud to publish to readers,” said Brad Martin, president and CEO of PRH Canada. The store is online at penguinshop.ca and is present on most social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. The store will also be open during the day for shoppers.