Two years ago, Barnes & Noble tested a new concept in its Edina store — a bookstore with a restaurant that had a $26 entree. Now, the national bookseller is testing another idea in Minnesota: smaller.
Its new store opening Wednesday in the CityPlace development in Woodbury is about 10,000 square feet smaller than its typical store. It succeeds a store in another Woodbury shopping center that had been a hit for Barnes & Noble.
“Minnesota is a great market for us — we’ve had a presence here for 27 years,” Frank Morabito, vice president of stores for Barnes & Noble, said Tuesday at the new store. “Both Edina and Woodbury are well-performing stores.”
The former Woodbury store in Valley Creek Plaza closed Tuesday. It lacked amenities such as a cafe, a kids’ play area, and seating for browsing a book or chatting with a friend.
The new store at CityPlace offers a more contemporary style than the 2017 prototype Edina location and will have 33,000 book titles on hand. Its cafe will seat 50 and serve Starbucks drinks, hot ham & cheese or Sante Fe chicken sandwiches ($8 each) along with quiche, soup, assorted breakfast sandwiches and pastries made on site.
The brisket burger, beer and wine at the Barnes & Noble restaurant in Edina didn’t make it to Woodbury.
The Woodbury store is about 6,000 feet smaller than the Edina store that relocated in the Galleria in 2017.
It eliminated most of the music department, but it features an aisle of vinyl albums. Movies and music are being phased out of most Barnes & Noble stores due to poor sales, executives told analysts recently.
Store manager Ann Franquiz highlighted local elements in a tour on Tuesday. Besides the staff recommendations, there are displays of local authors, a large puzzles and games selection that has been curated by staff, book clubs and a lot more gathering space.
A dedicated story time for kids has been added nationwide, with Woodbury’s slated for Saturday mornings. Kids and young-adult sections have been enhanced due to strong growth, according to the most recent earnings call.
Franquiz said the gift department has more space for items such as guest books, address books, and memory and keepsake journals, many of which are color-coded and separated by designers such as Kate Spade, Ban.do and Lilly Pulitzer.
Localization fits in with comments made by new Chief Executive James Daunt. He reversed sales declines at the 300 Waterstones stores in Britain by allowing managers to focus on each store’s selection rather than operate as a unified chain.
Last month, New York-based Barnes & Noble was purchased by hedge fund Elliott Management for $683 million.
A year earlier it purchased Waterstones. The sale is expected to close by the end of the third quarter and make the bookseller a privately held company.