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Store Design and Public Libraries

Twice this year my seatmate on the plane has been a senior exec at a major retailer in charge of store design. it was interesting to discuss libraries and what we can learn from retail and what they could learn from libraries.
My first seatmate was from The GAP, Baby GAP, Old Navy, etc. She discussed their target audiences and the challenge of building hundreds of new stores quickly and changing the old ones to keep up with consumer tastes and preferences. It was interesting to note that they re-program stores every 3 to 5 years. They were also introducing new lines and a new store concept. I doubt too many libraries even add a new coat of fresh paint that often! I wonder if we should.
My second seatmate was a store exec for Abercrombie and Fitch, A&F, a&f, Reuhl, Hollingers, etc. He really talked about knowing your audience and what they prefer but also attracting their attention to your stuff as well as your core product. Their core product is jeans, no discounting. Our core product is books. They are just starting to go international – Canada and London UK – so they’re starting to see cultural differences beyond the US. He was talking about how they are going for dark stores and spotlight displays to catch customer’s attention. They are putting in steps so people can look down upon or walk up to displays. Levels allow them to change it up. They are also covering up some display windows with shutters to offer a sense of mystery and make the customer wonder what’s inside. With so many libraries lacking clear displays and windows, maybe A&F is catching up to us! I have been at libraries lately that only have signage on one side of their building!
Anyway, I know the workshops and speeches by Paco Underhill at library association conferences about the profession of merchandising and what libraries can learn from it. At a recent visit to Seattle Public Library I saw a display of color blocked books (every cover was yellow) and I have to say, it got my attention too. I suspect we can learn a lot more from retail without going whole hog into store style libraries. I know the Library Normative Data Project uses a lot of insights from Wal-Mart srtyle analyses.

Posted on: November 15, 2006, 1:29 am Category: Uncategorized

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