Merchant Innovation

Barnes & Noble Bets On Books, Food, Beer And Wine

Barnes & Noble To Serve Beer, Wine, Food

Most libraries have a no-food, no-drink policy on their premises to limit the likelihood that precious volumes of classic literature end up drenched in Mountain Dew and cheese sauce. However, one of the largest brick-and-mortar booksellers in the country is hoping food and drinks are exactly what will bring customers back in droves.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Barnes & Noble has a set of new concept stores that will be revealed come fiscal year 2017, but at an investor conference on Thursday (June 23), CEO Ron Boire confirmed that expanded cafe areas feature heavily in the four to-be locations. In those cafes, an expanded menu will also attempt to entice customers not with standard bookstore fare of croissants and tea but with full breakfast, lunch and dinner — complete with wine and beer for readers of a Bukowski inspiration.

“We’re going to offer good food, and because we’re Barnes & Noble, it’s going to be affordable, not $50 dinner entrees,” Boire said during the conference.

While specific details of the menu remained under saran wrap, Boire did let slip that the company had hired an executive chef to oversee its preparation. And though it might seem odd for a bookstore to be fussing over its culinary capabilities when it has no demonstrated experience in the field, the very opportunity for Barnes & Noble to open up a new way of interacting with consumers is well worth the price of admission.

“This gets people into the stores to do stuff," John Tinker, analyst at Gabelli & Co., told WSJ. "It’s also something Amazon can’t do. What we have to see is whether Barnes & Noble can increase its sales and fix its tech issues generally going forward. They have to execute.”

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