Burlington Christian Bookstore Adds 2nd Location Devoted to General Market Remainders
Just when it seems that all we hear are stories of people either giving up on bookselling or feeling forced to throw in the towel, today we have a story of a store that’s actually expanding its bookselling presence in its home city.
Last month Jack Huisman and the team at Family Christian Bookstore — one of the largest Christian bookstores in Ontario — located in Burlington (a city of 176,000 in the Greater Toronto Area) opened the doors on a new project called Froogal Books and More just one building, six retail stores, and a few short steps south of its present location on one of the city’s busiest streets.
I need to pause here and say: That’s a great logo. I see franchise possibilities written all over this!
The website itself is powered by Book Manager and offers full online shopping possibilities which on the weekend boasted 4,022 titles of which 3,728 are described as “Bargain Books” and — this I found very interesting — 116 are listed as “Regular Stock,” which includes everything from Goodnight Moon to Stephen King to the To Kill a Mockingbird sequel. (Not all items in this category were book items.) Surprisingly, only 71 books were listed as “Religion” and these were mostly titles with great general market crossover potential. The new store is clearly meant to have a very distinct identity.
The website currently contains a photo archive which chronicles the journey from taking possession of the store at the end of June to completion and grand opening at the end of August. We haven’t yet seen the store in person, but hope to visit late October.
The store’s Facebook page maintains an unusually clean and uniform layout presenting the latest titles on offer.
Would your store consider something like this?
Those of us who deal with remainder product already have some expertise in this part of the larger book market. (Besides trade books and remainder books, other branches of our industry include the premium or specialty market, the textbook market, used books, antiquarian books, the self-publishing or vanity press market, and books like the Harlequin titles which are part of the periodical or magazine paradigm. Then there are trade market specialties like sci-fi stores, cookbook stores, children’s bookstores, etc.) Some of us already have a breadth of supplier relationships that would make this possible. We already know our local market well and the possibilities for partnerships and media with the best advertising reach.
On the other hand, for our family it would mean investing in products we’ve never committed dollars to before, which might include things that would raise the eyebrows of clientele in the other store. I’m sure that the team at Froogal bring their family values to the new store, but you would still want to keep the business units and customers separate.
The other challenge is running an off-price, general-market, liquidation type of store but staying closed on Sundays, as Froogal currently is. (Salvation Army and Bibles for Missions stores are closed Sundays, but they’re in the Thrift Store category selling used goods.)
On the other hand, diversifying within the same industry creates a number of synergies, not to mention in this case having a second store that’s less than a minute walk from the first. The “and More” in their name also leaves open the possibilities of adding any other liquidation commodity that makes a good fit, though trial and error may define what that fit looks like.
We’ll be watching this with great interest.
Family Christian Books in Burlington is in no way related to the Family Christian chain in the United States. Depending on who you are dealing with, the remainder book market may includes discontinued titles, publisher overstock and (sometimes) hurt (slightly damaged) books.