Twenty-six year-old Henry Bear's Park in Cambridge and Newton Centre, Mass., just added store number three in Arlington. Arlington is a community that has become a magnet for young families in recent years, as more and more people have been priced out of neighboring Cambridge, and Arlington residents are so eager to have a book and toy store in their town that at least one mother has volunteered to help ready the space.

It is no accident that the stores take their name from the David McPhail picture book published in 1976, the same year that Henry Bear's Park opened in Cambridge. President and owner Sally Lesser worked with McPhail when she was at the Atlantic Monthly Press, and he designed the bear logo for her store. Although Brio, Lego, K'Nex! and other toy lines are prominently displayed at Henry Bear's Park, Lesser noted that "books are a significant part of what we do."

Very few specialty toy stores take what Lesser referred to as "a bookstore approach to books." Henry Bear's Park has a separate buyer for books, and books account for more than 20% of the stores' business in terms of dollars. "In Cambridge, we stock the same number of distinct SKUs as toys, between 7,000 and 7,500 titles," she said. Although Henry Bear's Park doesn't regularly discount books or toys, every Thursday night between 6 and 8 p.m. it offers 10% off all purchases.

The new Henry Bear's Park in downtown Arlington, directly across the street from the town library, opened early this month. The store has 2,500 square feet of selling space, and its basement will be used for receiving and storage for all three stores. Once the Arlington store is up and running, the Newton Centre store, which opened in 1990 and has less square footage than the other two stores, is slated for a redesign to focus on books. "We want to figure out how we can present books there like we do in Cambridge and Arlington," explained Lesser, who expanded the Cambridge store in 1999.