Around 25 years ago, Sherri Routt started working at the Fair Oaks Barnes and Noble. Now, she’s helping the book store chain launch a new prototype store in the Mosaic District (2921 District Avenue).
Tomorrow (April 24), Routt’s 8,300-square-foot Barnes and Noble will open its doors to the public. The store is considerably smaller than the usual stores.
Frank Morabito, Vice President of stores for Barnes and Noble, attended a special preview event at the store and said the new slimmer size is part of a shift towards a more cafe feel for the chain rather than sprawling brick and mortar stores.
The store would feel familiar to anyone who has visited the chain’s larger locations. Though the store is smaller, a quick check on obscure fantasy and historical titles showed that the store is still considerably well stocked.
But there are other differences immediately apparent when stepping into the store. Lower bookshelves in the building offer clear views from one end of the store to the other in contrast to the more labyrinthian, library-feel of many book stores.
Routt said that staff will be roaming the store assisting visitors with product selection and allowing them to purchase books without needing to visit a cash wrap. The store will also feature a self-serve kiosk so customers can research books on their own.
But as a person who has worked in local Barnes and Nobles for years, Routt said she wanted to include a focus on local authors. Routt said she knew several from her days working in Fair Oaks, and used those connections to help put together a lineup of book signings for the grand opening.
The book store also has a children’s section with a selection for younger ages along with toys and a special activity table for children to play with LEGOs.
“This is the cleanest this playspace is ever going to be,” one parent noted as the tour group passed the LEGO table.
Routt said there are many children’s book authors in the area, so moving forward she’s hoping to organize more reading events with writers and children.
“We’re really trying to make our store feel very localized,” Routt said.
The store also features a Barnes and Noble Cafe. While many locations include Starbucks, Morabito said the Barnes and Noble Cafes are company owned and feature Starbucks coffee, but may have a slightly different selection of baked goods.
Morabito said the Mosaic District was the perfect location to open a prototype smaller store, the second in the D.C. region.
“This is the ideal model [for the Mosaic District],” Morabito said. “It’s an amazing shopping experience here and they needed a book store.”
Routt said the store opening had been an easy and streamlined process, though she’s aware there are a lot of eyes in the corporate hierarchy trained on this store opening.
“I’m super excited for the opening,” Routt said. “We’re being watched because this is a new model. So there’s a pressure there, but it’s the good kind — not a stress pressure.”
The lineup of authors signing for the grand opening include:
- April 24: Kristyn Kusek Lewis — 5 p.m.
- April 24: Ikechuku Chigewe — 5 p.m.
- April 25: Ellen Crosby — 5 p.m.
- April 26: Olivia Hinebaugh — 5 p.m.
- April 27: Kwame Alexander – 12 p.m.
- April 27: Eleanor Jones, Barb Goffman and Libby Kelin — 4 p.m.
- April 28: Barbara Carroll Roberts — 10 a.m.
- April 28: Tiffany Foo — 1 p.m.
The store will also host face painting and balloon twisting on Saturday (April 27) and Sunday (April 28).