Indigo Launches First Cultural Department Store for Booklovers

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When I was a teen the mall was everything. It was a meeting ground for my friends, a place of escape from our parents and teachers. We’d troll through the same stores again and again, inspired by things we thought defined the people we were and would become.

Today the mall is struggling. Kids connect over social media. They’re inspired by YouTubers. The rise of e-commerce plus our growing desire for experiences over things has chipped away at mall traffic, endangering its survival. Retailers are being forced to rethink their brick and mortar locations as more than a place to house stuff. It has to be a destination. They must learn how to embrace the omni-channel approach – providing a seamless user experience across all channels – while increasing a customer’s dwell time in store.

Retail is far from dead. It just needs to be refreshed.

Enter Indigo. The Canadian bookstore chain opened its latest location at CF Sherway Gardens this summer. The 30,000 megastore brands itself as the “first cultural department store for book lovers.” That isn’t just a tagline. It’s a bold move into the future.

Bookstores have always been categorized by interest, but this store takes it a step further with “shop within shop” boutiques catering to various interests such as health and wellness, home and cooking, fashion, art.

Indigo tapped customer data for insights that resulted in a seamless integration of books and lifestyle products. For instance, people interested in Wellness books are also a likely demo for products like the wildly popular FitBit, Swell water bottles for the ultimate style in on-the-go hydration and even chic, reusable food containers, which you’ll find stacked among the book titles.

Joy of the Table mixes recipe and home decor books with luxuriously homey cookware and table accents. Around the corner, Indigo brings the Canadian Home to life with cozy seating featuring on-trend pillows, throws, candles and a curated selection of 200 single titles that make up the best personal library.

A Room of Her Own is a shop inspired by Virginia Woolf’s famous extended essay “A Room of One’s Own.” This section offers fashion and beauty accessories including scarves, bags, jewellery, watches, eyeglasses, and lotions all surrounded by one of the largest selections of fashion, beauty and style books, in addition to titles by strong female authors including Joan Didion, Mindy Kaling and Shonda Rhimes.

It’s nice to see Canadian brands such as Pluck Tea, Matt & Nat handbags and Jenny Bird jewellery front and center. The store is also home to Indigo’s exclusive Read the North book gallery. #ReadtheNorth is their recent movement designed to inspire Canadians to fall in love with Canadian literature. Through the end of July you can enter to win one of two $500 gift cards in their #ReadtheNorth Instagram contest. Check out some of the familiar and famous helping to promote here.)

The Paper Shop (one of my favourite areas) takes up a massive corner stocked high with Moleskin journals, greeting cards and writing instruments. To add a personal touch to any gift, Indigo offers a complimentary embossing station to monogram journals, pouches and totes.

For the parents, a significant portion of the store is devoted to kids with books and edutainment. Every Tuesday and Saturday they host IndigoKids Storytime with readings for kids up to six years old.

Indigo is one of the best things at CF Sherway Gardens, a mall that boasts luxury shops like Saks and Holt Renfrew with Nordstroms a planned addition this fall. While other bookstores are tanking (talking to you, Barnes & Noble), Indigo is one of the rare success stories in retail, consistently showing revenue increases across all channels. Perhaps it’s because they’ve capitalized on the one area where Amazon can’t compete — the store experience.