On November 18, Texas will have a new 20,000-square-foot independent bookstore.
Owner Teri Tanner will celebrate the opening of a Real Bookstore in Fairview, Texas, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Fairview’s mayor and other officials, Harry Potter events (tied into the Deathly Hallows movie release), signings with Top Chef’s Tre Wilcox and former football player and TV sportscaster Pat Summerall, music by local bands, and two gifts and stationery events. The opening weekend will also coincide with the start of The Village at Fairview’s holiday light show.
Tanner, who was managing partner for the now-closed Legacy Books in Plano, told BTW: “We are a general-interest bookstore, but we’ve expanded the children’s section considerably compared to the former Legacy Books location. We have 2,000 square feet dedicated to children’s titles and activity space.”
A Real Bookstore will gear its marketing campaigns toward serving the reading needs of area children. “Primary among our marketing efforts is outreach to schools,” Tanner said. “We’ll keep a family focus. I think all of us in the business of books need to remember that when you get beyond the East and West coasts, the book-buying public looks like a family. To overlook that is to overlook a lot of opportunity.”
Local residents have already responded to having a Real Bookstore in the neighborhood. “Our nearest neighbors are families with school-age children,” explained Tanner, “and even though we aren’t open yet, they’re calling and leaving us notes and messages to say how excited they are that we’ve come to their community.”
The neighborhood is “like a lot of North Texas,” Tanner said. “It was prairie and pasture not long ago, and it’s not just the old-timers who remember when the traffic around Stacy Road was sometimes on horseback – 35-year-olds will tell you the same thing. Now it’s strollers and SUVs full of residents from Allen, Fairview, Lovejoy, McKinney, and Plano, the tier of suburbs north of Dallas.”
To thrive during pinched financial times, the store’s strategy is to offer customers good value, “the watchword for smart business,” Tanner said. “That means more than spotlighting $14 trade paperbacks compared to $35 hardcovers, though. There is plenty of value in hardcovers, like there is in all books, and customers sometimes just need reminding.”
The store will emphasize that books can be enjoyed by multiple people, in a way that many other purchases can’t. “You can buy a book and pass it along to a friend or family member, sharing it and saving money in that way,” Tanner said. “You can’t share and save in the same way with other things that compete for entertainment dollars, like sports or concert tickets, or a night at the movies…. Books are a standby, though, and the value of standbys is something the consumer has really come to recognize.”
Another form of value that marketing efforts will emphasize is the experience of being in the store itself, something that customers consider subconsciously if not consciously, said Tanner. “You come into a bookstore environment like ours and you can escape, be entertained, be educated, and be really engaged ... say, by an hour or two of browsing, reading, hearing a story with your kids, or having a glass of wine while you enjoy a magazine. And the ratio of expense to the quality of the experience is really favorable.”