Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Sort of Gift Post—My Semi-Regular Visit to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon.

I’ve been visiting Powell’s since the mid 1990s, and I continue to be overwhelmed by the size of the Burnside “City of Books” location, which is over 68,000 square feet. Their store in Beaverton is 37,000 square feet, and event their tiny location on Hawthorne is 10,000 square feet.

To put that in perspective, Boswell, which is not considered a small store in size, is 7500 square feet. But the Hawthorne number is deceiving, as two doors town is Powell’s Home and Garden store, which is another 4000 square feet.

The locations are still packed with books, but over the years, they have brought in more and more gift items, which are most notable at Home and Garden. Wandering through the stores, I began to realize that our selection is rather thin, and there are a number of lines that could use some reordering.

It also made me well aware that I have to figure out how to get some sort of slatwall in the store, or at least a better hook system. I’ve been trying to find a source for these plastic hooks that come attached to some of my products, but to date, have had no success.

As is the case wherever I go, I look at what other folks are carrying, and maybe one out of fifty interesting items I spot in a store I actually follow up and purchase. Sometimes it will be right away, but often it will be later, when I come across a catalog, a sales email, or a booth or table at a gift show.

There are trends in this area too. It seems that many of my friends at bookstores are venturing further into clothing. It shouldn’t surprise you to see that many a smart store has a display of hats or socks.

One place where Powell’s excels is in branded merchandise. Last time through I bought a tee shirt. On this trip, I bought one of their 41st anniversary mugs. I thought about buying a tote bag too, but sometimes I have to pace myself.

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