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Publishers Weekly reports on how HE Butt is aggressively marketing children’s books, focusing on literacy as an important cause, and turning some of its stores into important stops for children’s authors on book tours.

The magazine writes:

“‘I’m always looking for children’s events,’ says Jim Dahlen, senior buyer, publishing and audio/video electronics. ‘Our whole culture for the company is family and community.’ That translates into 16 feet of children’s books in 140 out of 300 HEB grocery stores in Texas. ‘I don’t just want coloring books. I want young children reading in our store,’ Dahlen adds, citing studies indicating that the number one reason for low children’s literacy in the state of Texas is the lack of reading material in the home. Based on his own research, he’s found that if HEB stocks inexpensive children’s books - mostly Golden Books and paperbacks - people will buy.
“‘Literacy for me is important, because I love my company and the future for any company is having an educated work force. With all the video and gaming, a lot of kids have forgotten how important reading is,’ says Dahlen.”

The story goes on:

“At the end of July, HEB opened its first children’s literacy center inside its store in Tomball. The 300 sq. ft. space, located between toys and publishing, is dedicated to children’s reading. Parents can see their kids sitting at tables or lying on the floor reading, but it’s outside the traffic area. No shopping carts are allowed.

“Not every store or community is large enough to support a literacy center, but those that can will also have programming every weekend aimed at children. When the Laredo store is remodeled later this year, it will add a literacy center, too. And Dahlen is also beginning to experiment with ways to promote adult literacy.”
KC's View:
I love this story. I love it when retailers go beyond the simple selling of food and establish for themselves a mission that makes sense as well as sales.

It is only through literacy that we learn, we grow, we are exposed to ideas other than our own and we come to grips with the world around us. And, by the way, we become smarter people and even better customers.