business news in context, analysis with attitude

Digiday has a story about Indigo, a Canadian bookstore chain, which has its eyes on the US as a place where it can grow - despite the fact, or maybe especially because Borders has gone out of business and Barnes & Noble seems to be in irreversible decline.

The first Indigo opened this week at a mall in Short Hills, New Jersey, and includes an in-store coffee shop.

According to the story, “The company, which is Canada’s largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer, currently has 85 large and 121 small-format stores under the brands Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Indigospirit and The Book Company. It’s held its own against the growth of Amazon in Canada by moving beyond books to lifestyle and home accessories, and it’s created an inviting atmosphere for customers. It’s also built an arsenal of private-label brands exclusive to the retailer, including IndigoKids, IndigoBaby, Wellness, IndigoPaper, among others.”

Digiday writes that Indigo has managed to remain relevant by de-emphasizing books and putting more of spotlight on products that, when people come into the store, they’re more likely to buy them. Bookstores, the logic goes, are too much like libraries, and so people feel free to browse and read and maybe have a cup of coffee, without feeling compelled to buy anything.
KC's View:
It is an interesting notion - the very things that Barnes & Noble and Borders thought made them a desirable place to shop has been judged by another, similar retailer to be the real problem with their long-term viability.

Though, when you think about it, I suspect the folks at Amazon would say the same thing about Indigo.

We’ll see.

Indigo’s management likes to say that Canadian customers think that its stores are their “happy place.” That may be true, but if they wanted to find out if the same thing could happen with American customers, I’m not sure I would’ve picked New Jersey, especially a place that is just 90 miles from Philadelphia and 25 miles from New York. Maybe Vermont?