Borders® Opens New Concept Store at Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge
Breakthrough Retail Concept Store Opened to Public Aug. 21; Grand Opening Weekend Aug. 29 – 31
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Borders made national headlines in February when it launched its first-ever concept store in Ann Arbor, Mich. The breakthrough retail concept represents a significant enhancement over existing Borders stores inside and out and fulfills the company’s mission to be a headquarters for knowledge and entertainment. The store blends digital and Internet options with a fresh new look, enriching in-store services, and a number of exciting features to create a uniquely satisfying customer shopping experience. Now, this new concept store is premiering in Baton Rouge. Borders opened the 25,000-square-foot store located in the Mall of Louisiana’s newly constructed open-air wing, The Boulevard, located at Picardy Avenue and Bluebonnet Boulevard, Aug. 21. The Grand Opening weekend festivities will take place from Friday, Aug. 29 – Sunday, Aug. 31.
“The opening of our initial concept store in Ann Arbor generated tremendous media attention including major stories in national newspapers and on television. We’ve had scores of retail executives from other companies, store designers, shopping center developers and publishers coming from around the nation to see the new store, as it truly is a breakthrough retail concept. It has been a huge success and customers love it,” said Borders Group Chief Executive Officer George Jones. “We’ve stayed true to what our customers have always loved about Borders—deep and intelligent selection, knowledgeable staff, and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Yet, we’ve brought a fresh new look and an exciting interactive dimension to the store with a Digital Center where customers can do everything from mix and make their own custom CDs, download audiobooks and music, publish their own books, and create photo books—all without being computer experts because we have trained people there to help every step of the way,” he said.
“In addition, we’ve put a strong focus on popular categories—including Travel, Cooking, Wellness, Graphic Novels and Children’s—by incorporating digital options and the online world, making these sections of the store interactive destinations where customers can not only shop our vast selection of books, but also take advantage of computer kiosks featuring recommendations from our expert buyers, related video content including interviews with experts and authors, and much more. In addition, in select destinations, there are large in-section LCD screens broadcasting a depth of content featuring some highly recognizable names in these subject areas, as well as Borders’ own exclusive programs,” Jones continued.
“Overall, this new concept store is a key part of our long-term strategic plan. We set out to differentiate Borders and give customers a reason to choose us over other retailers and we’ve achieved that goal spectacularly with this new concept store. I’m proud of what we’ve created and I’m thrilled with the way customers have embraced it.”
Beginning with the exterior of the concept store, shoppers will see that this new Borders makes a bold statement with an exterior boasting many windows and a large, illuminated and underlined red Borders logo. The store also features a cafe with a cozy outdoor seating area where customers can relax and visit with friends, read their favorite book, or simply enjoy the outdoors.
Fresh New Interior
Once inside, customers will immediately recognize that a new and exciting experience awaits them. Curved feature tables placed front and center greet customers with the latest book titles. A large round rotunda with faux skylights lends an artistic flair to the store, and the warm, neutral color scheme, cozy seating, and walnut- and ash-stained fixtures suggest comfort and an invitation for shoppers to stay as long as they like. Throughout the store, there are large, illuminated drums suspended from the ceiling that feature dazzling graphics and guide customers to destinations within the store. Overall, the layout remains conducive to exploration while also being extremely intuitive for customers to navigate with ease.
Dramatically distinctive against the neutral backdrop of the store is a new Digital Center marked by a three-dimensional, 12-foot fixture and sign package. Within the Digital Center there are multiple computer kiosks and stations dedicated to unique new services including music and audiobook downloading as well as mixing and making custom CDs through “Borders Digital Music,” which features millions of titles to choose from. Since many Borders customers are authors looking to publish their own work, the Digital Center also includes “Borders Personal Publishing” powered by Lulu.com. Some customer-written books may eventually be sold in Borders stores and select customer authors could even host in-store signings. Photos are important to many Borders customers who can use “Borders Custom Photo Books” for special projects featuring family and friends.
Throughout the Digital Center, there are seats at the various computer stations where customers are encouraged to sit and take their time working on their projects. Importantly, Borders knows that not all customers are technologically savvy, so the company is staffing the Digital Center with trained, dedicated experts ready to guide customers of any technical level through the process to achieve their project goals.
In addition to the Digital Center, Borders has retained its popular computer information stations— “Borders Search”—to help customers locate titles within the store and outside of the store and learn about in-store events, among other services. As in existing Borders stores, these stations are located throughout the concept store allowing customers to help themselves.
Destinations: Travel, Cooking, Wellness, Graphic Novels and Children’s
Certain categories within the new Borders concept store—Travel, Cooking, Wellness, Graphic Novels and Children’s—are so popular and rapidly growing that Borders has designated them as special destinations within the new concept store—giving these categories their own “shop within a shop” look and feel. For example, in the Travel Destination, customers can not only choose from thousands of book titles, but will also find related items such as maps, GPS navigation systems, the Reader Digital Book from Sony®, and portable DVD players that customers can use on their travels. Within the section, there is an interactive computer kiosk where customers can research, plan, and even book a trip in the store. On the kiosk, there is a “Borders Featured Destination” highlighting various U.S. and international locations, and customers can use the feature to learn everything about the locale they plan to visit, including Frommer’s favorite experiences and upcoming events. For featured destinations, Borders also makes available on the kiosk an article written by travel expert Pauline Frommer who offers additional advice and tips for planning a trip to the destination.
In addition, the kiosk within the Travel Destination also features a “Borders Trip Recommender,” teamed with Whatsonwhen and Frommer’s, to provide customers with a list of suggested travel destinations based on preferences and criteria set by the shopper using a brief questionnaire regarding the type of trip desired and other parameters. The “Borders Trip Recommender” suggests potential destinations, and by clicking on recommended locations, customers will access related book, DVD and other resources selected by Borders’ expert buyers to enrich the travel experience. Using the “Search and Book” feature on the kiosk from Sidestep.com, recently acquired by Kayak.com, customers can even book an entire trip online from the in-store kiosk. Within the Travel Destination, the new concept store also offers customers travel programming on a large LCD screen that features a mix of travel tips, guided visual tours, author interviews, and nature programming from locations around the world.
Similar deep selection and various interactive opportunities are available in the Cooking and Wellness Destinations, where customers can watch topical programming on the large in-section LCD screens and use the computer kiosks to learn about recommended titles and receive advice from the experts. In the Graphic Novels Destination, there is an amazing selection of titles as well as related gift items and even software that customers can purchase to create their own comic books.
In Children’s—a destination with thousands of book titles as well as music CDs, DVDs, toys, games and puzzles—kids and their families will be impressed that Borders has divided the section into sub-categories including infants/toddlers/preschoolers, beginning readers (age 4-8), and early readers (age 7-9), which cater specifically to the very different interests and developmental levels of those age groups. In addition, in the new concept store, Borders has relocated the independent reader (age 10-12) section from Children’s and given it its own separate area to appeal to older children.
Visually, children and adults will be captivated by a massive mural that spans three walls above the book shelves in the Children’s section. Created exclusively for Borders by Australian author and illustrator Colin Thompson, the mural features incredibly intricate and colorful images of castles, underground cities, and flying books, among other images.
“Overall, customers need to know that there is something you offer as a retailer that they cannot find anywhere else,” Jones said. “That’s just what we are doing with these unique destinations within our concept stores. We are putting a stake in the ground when it comes to these categories by making the assortment and the experience so interactive and compelling, that customers will bypass competitors to come to us to shop within these key categories as well as the rest of the store.”
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