Yesterday I had a near-brush with celebrity. Actually it was just a sighting but we won’t nit-pick. While browsing the newly opened Chapters Indigo Bookstore in Toronto’s Sherway Mall (they’ve moved across the road from their former stand-alone location on the north side of The Queensway at Highway 427) I witnessed owner Heather Reisman being photographed for publicity shots in the store. In my world of book-lovers, that qualifies as an event. It was all I could do to restrain myself from running over, giving her a big hug and shouting “You go girl!”.
Print books have been loved the world over for centuries and now that e-books are chipping away at the market, book-sellers like Canada’s Indigo have to work harder at creating buying incentives. The downside of the proliferation of these so-called big box stores has been the demise of small, neighbourhood bookstores but book lovers still have a vested interest in keeping bookstores in any form alive and thriving.
Indigo’s new Sherway Mall store is somewhat different in design from traditional existing retail locations. Instead of giftware and miscellaneous seasonal items being collectively displayed in one area apart from the books, they’re now integrated with the relevant books. Merchandising of jewelry, stationery, cottage hostess gifts and accoutrements to the pleasures of reading are artfully arranged in little room-like settings that make browsing even more delicious. In the section featuring scarves, jewelry and accessories, there’s a wall of books related to fashion and design. Candles, tea cups and soft throws are flanked by shelves of books on mindfulness, personal growth and spirituality. Toys and children’s books are merchandised together.
I’m always drawn to the displays of “Heather’s Picks” as we seem to have the same taste in reading material. Glancing across the titles displayed my mind ticks off “read it, read it, read it”, moving on to something I haven’t read and putting it on my list. The store also offers a tantalizing calendar of in-store author and reading events.
The new Sherway store is bursting with sales assistants which may be coincidental because the store just opened but there was friendly help available at every turn. (Hudson’s Bay’s second floor ladies clothing department could benefit from the example here, but that’s another story.) Shopping at the new Sherway Indigo is about more than just leafing through wonderful inky-smelling glossy new books; it’s a highly sensual experience. Caressing the soft throws, inhaling the delicate fragrances of the candles, feeling the lovely stationery offerings or even tasting (after purchase, of course) the teas, spices and delicious gourmet accoutrements in seasonal displays offers experiences beyond reading alone.
And the amazing part? I haven’t even taken the escalator upstairs yet. What den of delights awaits me there? OMG! I totally missed the magazine section. For this magazine junkie that alone warrants a couple of hours of browsing for my favourite Brit mags like Red, Tatler, British Vogue. No one else offers such an amazing selection of international publications. It’s an orgasmic experience for lovers of reading. I can feel my Plum Rewards Card vibrating in my purse. Heather, girlfriend, your new concept in merchandising rocks! Keep up the good work.
Note: This is absolutely not a paid endorsement of any kind.