Deke, a service dog and frequenter of Books of Wonder with his human Peter Glassman, knows things about bookselling. Along with the classic shelving in the store, Deke offers a helping paw and knows about the silent sales force Franklin Fixtures created for this iconic bookstore in NYC.
But can you believe it's been 20 years? 20 years ago Books of Wonder was replicated as the "Shop Around the Corner" for the film "You've Got Mail." Because Franklin Fixtures had made the shelving for Books of Wonder some 19 years earlier, it made sense that Franklin make the shelving for the film (for both that store and the Fox Books set). So the fixtures became movie stars.
And Franklin Fixtures wants to clarify that "You've Got Mail" told the story of an Indie closing to a big box, which was fiction. In real life, that didn't happen for this store. In real life, owner Peter Glassman has expanded the store 6 times in the last 38 years and is in the midst of some exciting plans for 2019.
Books of Wonder has two stores in NYC -- one opened just last year. "And we're still using the Franklin Fixtures we bought over 30 years ago and those we've added along the way." says Peter.
Deke is an inquisitive and observant sort and he's got answers to 3 questions that you may find really interesting:
1. What's special about these fixtures?
2. How do they work?
3. Can learning about them help you in your store?
1. What's special about the Books of Wonder (aka "You've Got Mail") fixtures?
The materials: a fruitwood stained wood on a special core that is strong enough to hold books for decades. Quality materials create an atmosphere that extends to the curated selection. These books must be special because they're part of a high quality display.
The angles: every book is angled to easily meet the eye and help customers connect with titles. Research indicates that the correct angulation allows customers to see 73% more titles.
The organization and path: the fixtures support and frame a carefully planned and thought-out path through the store and create areas that are appropriate to the books displayed. This store uses some 92 different styles of fixtures
to achieve the merchandising plan.
The use of space: in NYC every square inch must pay for itself. Here, slatwall end panels (even on slender single sided cases in some places), corner units, different widths and shelving strategies optimize the available space for needed sales. And Feature Face-outs, which help sales so much, are still abundant.
Peter comments, "Doing business with Franklin Fixtures over the past 30 years, I consider them not just a vendor but a partner and a key to our success. I really wouldn't consider even talking to anyone else about furnishing our stores.
For our first two stores, we built the bookshelves and then for our third store, we realized the difference. The return on investment was clear and we went with Franklin and have been since. To build a quality shelving system that works, from good materials, cost us a lot more than having them made by Franklin."
"Particularly with children's books that are so many different sizes you have to be able to move things around. The flexibility of the shelves was a real attraction. There are so many differences." - says Peter
Says Franklin Fixture's Lisa Uhrik, "This is why custom is the only true solution for an Indie store. Every inch matters."
Uhrik continues, "No two Indie stores are the same and it's critical that we make only what customers need for their spaces. Making to order keeps costs low and ensures that their fixtures work like no others."
2. How do these shelves work for the store?
People buy what they touch. Retail research indicates that people buy 71-74% of the things they touch in a store. The right height, the right feature face out engagement, a sturdy display (not something easily knocked over like a bookstand) helps make your things touchable. And saleable.
Customers want change and a shopping experience: having movable shelves that change with merchandise is essential. And changing those displays weekly ensures that customers get an experience -- a new way of seeing -- which is what they are looking for today.
It's personal: Solid, angled shelves, right-height tables and display risers facilitate eye-to-book contact that help Staff Picks and Blind Dates with a Book connect with customers. The Silent Sales force (fixtures) hand sell and create that curated connection with you and your staff.
3. How can this be helpful to you in your store?
Let's demonstrate that we readers also know how to do the math:
An average single sided case holds about 220 books and costs $426.
If each book has a profit margin of $2 (after business expenses), then that unit will yield $440 for every turn.
If you are able to turn those books even once a month, that single shelf will yield you $5,280.
And the ROI (return on investment) is one month.
Profit first 12 months: $5,280
Other bookshelf (flat, fixed shelves)
Cost: $386 (Uline catalog)
Profit first 12 months: $440
Based on historical studies, Franklin's angled and movable shelves yield 12 times more profit than residential shelves.
Says co-owner Dave Uhrik,"When you do something for 44 years as a focus, you learn the craft like no one else. Franklin Fixtures has been committed to fixtures that SELL books since 1974. We are proud to continue that tradition with fresh ideas and proven structures."
Lisa Uhrik adds "Shelves are for storage, fixtures are for selling and the bottom line difference is profound. Like any field of endeavor, studying the needs of Indie bookstores yields products that are unlike any other. They're safer, they last forever, you can USE them as assets on a balance sheet (you can't really do that with other shelving systems) and they cost no more than standard U-line catalog shelving. Our biggest competitor is our own fixtures on the after market. That tells us all something. This is our way of opening great bookstores across the country and getting this country reading, conversing and learning.
Books of Wonder has been around almost as long as we have, because Peter Glassman and his great team is committed to children's literature and to promoting reading. "They are a real inspiration for Indies across the country and we love telling their story." says Lisa Uhrik.
And calm Deke the dog seems to say "I help. I work. Our shelves work. Nice place to be. Our store works. It's good. Good people, good."