retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a terrific story about Canada’s Indigo, a bookstore chain that has managed to challenge conventional wisdom about bricks-and-mortar weaknesses and create a business that continues to grow - and that has opened its first US unit in a New Jersey “luxury mall,” with plans to open more.

According to the story, “Indigo is positioning itself as a ‘cultural department store’ where customers who wander in to browse through books can make impulse purchases of cashmere slippers or crystal facial rollers … Over the last few years, Indigo has designed dozens of other products, including beach mats, scented candles, inspirational wall art, Mason jars, crystal pillars, bento lunchboxes, herb growing kits, copper cheese knife sets, stemless champagne flutes, throw pillows and scarves.”

While “it may seem strange for a bookstore chain to be developing and selling artisanal soup bowls and organic cotton baby onesies,” the Times writes, “Indigo’s approach seems not only novel but crucial to its success and longevity. The superstore concept, with hulking retail spaces stocking 100,000 titles, has become increasingly hard to sustain in the era of online retail, when it’s impossible to match Amazon’s vast selection.”

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
There are a couple of lines from Indigo’s CEO, Heather Reisman, that I really like and that I think are applicable to many other retailers.

First, she says that the goal of the retailer is to “curate ideas — big ideas — that we think are going to work across the board.” I love that.

And then she adds, “In those categories where we play, it’s a curated assortment. We are not looking to be the everything store. Someone’s already doing that.”

Exactly. If you are going to succeed, you have to bring your sense of taste, your ability to curate, a differentiated vision and the ability to retail around these core values. Otherwise, what’s the point?