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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Tuesday, Jun. 16, 2020 2 weeks ago

New bright, open Barnes & Noble store offers different look along with items popular during pandemic

The new store is 14,000 square feet with rooms showcasing different genres and themes.
by: Grier Ferguson Sarasota-Manatee Editor

Amid news of businesses closing during the pandemic, there’s a bright spot, especially for book lovers — Barnes & Noble is opening a new store in Sarasota at University Town Center on June 17.

In a sign of the times, the store won’t open to the fanfare usually reserved for a new bookstore. “In the past, we did a very large grand opening,” Store Manager Dominique Rosenbloom tells Coffee Talk. “Now we’re just opening the doors and saying ‘welcome.’ I think it’s just exciting to be opening a new Barnes & Noble store.”

Courtesy. Barnes & Noble is opening a new 14,000-square-foot store in Sarasota at University Town Center on June 17.

Due to the coronavirus, the store has several health and safety guidelines in place, including limiting the number of customers, using protective barriers at registers and designating spaces for shoppers to deposit books they have browsed so they can be sanitized. Booksellers will wear masks, and in true Barnes & Noble fashion, they’ll sport a variety of book-themed masks.

Customers visiting the store will find the items Rosenbloom says people have been asking for during the pandemic — jigsaw puzzles, hobbies and crafts, and books about cooking and gardening. “You will see big push toward those things when we open,” she says. “People have found their passions or re-found passions.”

The store is 14,000 square feet, about half the size of the company’s other store in Sarasota on Tamiami Trail. “It is definitely very different from the other locations,” says Rosenbloom. “There’s so much light, so many windows and it’s warm and inviting.” The store doesn’t have aisles — it has rooms within the store for different genres and themes. The University Town Center location, which includes a cafe, is among the first stores to feature the new design created by Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt.

Courtesy. Dominique Rosenbloom, store manager, and Sherri Wentz of Barnes & Noble. Booksellers will wear masks, and in true Barnes & Noble fashion, they’ll sport a variety of book-themed masks.

The look also carries with it a promise to cater to the community and offer titles specific to the area. That’s the direction Barnes & Noble is headed, says Rosenbloom. Stores in other states or cities won’t look the same since each location is tailored to the needs of local customers. “We’re really trying to make sure we’re here for the customer,” she says.

The company, with over 600 bookstores in 50 states, opened a store in a suburb of Chicago last week. It also opened a store outside Salt Lake City in November 2019.

The University Town Center location will have 20 to 25 employees. Rosenbloom, who worked at the other Sarasota location for nine years, is looking forward to greeting customers and talking to them about books. “Bookstore customers are wonderful customers,” she says. “They treat us like family, and it’s like home to them. People can’t wait to get in and see what the store looks like.”

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