Tuesday, October 10

A Letter to Nashville's Book Lovers

For those who aren't on the Davis Kidd email list.
A Letter to Nashville's Book Lovers
We'll soon be celebrating our one-year anniversary here in the new space at the Green Hills Mall, and we've heard lots of comments along the way -- some applause and also some constructive advice. We thought we'd take a minute to address the comments and questions that we've heard the most:

Why did you move to the Mall?
Davis-Kidd has continued to evolve through many changes over the past 25 years, and we really felt we needed a larger space to provide a more comfortable, more unique shopping environment worthy of our customers. With the exciting changes that have been occurring at Green Hills Mall, we felt it provided us the best option to relocate into a fresh, revitalized new space. Being able to maintain our own store front with parking in front of our store we felt would keep our profile at the level shoppers in Green Hills had come to expect. And with the excellent variety of the nation's best retailers at the mall, it would not only allow us increased exposure to a wider range of shoppers, but it also would provide our customers with multiple shopping opportunities once they made Davis-Kidd their destination.

It's often difficult to find parking in front of the store.
We understand that has been a problem for many of our customers. Being in a high-traffic area is great, but during the evenings and weekends we do realize that parking is a little tight in front of our store. However, many customers have come to realize that if they choose to park in the parking garage on the other side of Macy's, they can find great ease in parking and walk through the Macy's store in sheltered comfort to arrive at our store. We hear only good things from customers that have started to do that.

Why is so much of the new store located downstairs?
As popular as the Green Hills shopping area has become, space is at a premium for retailers. Since we weren't able to build "out," we decided to build "up." We felt that it was important to take a position that allowed us to rent a greater amount of space, because it's a high priority for us that people feel very comfortable lingering in our store. We also felt that our new store design helped us maintain the kind of very unique feel that customers expect from an independent retailer. The last thing we'd ever want to do is lose those special touches that set us apart from the cookie-cutter chains.

It seems that you're not carrying as many books as you used to.
Davis-Kidd has always remained committed to carrying the largest inventory of books in the industry, yet as a small company that can sometimes be a tall order given the amount of books that are being published today. We have made a significant investment over the past couple of years in revamping our purchasing and inventory systems and look for all of that to come together this fall. That has been the number one initiative for us as a company this year and I'm happy to say we anticipate that as we head into the holiday season, our book inventory should be not only back to the level you and I expect, but also with a much better approach to insuring that we have the right assortment of books that our customers are looking for.

I think you will also see us doing much more in the way of targeted merchandising within subject areas in the store. We have the best booksellers in the business (our booksellers actually do read the books!). We are always looking to enhance our ability to highlight titles we believe answer the questions many customers face when standing in a section they are not totally familiar with. What you will notice as a customer is more displays with featured signage highlighting key titles within subsections of book categories.

What other changes are planned?
We're relocating our Events space into a larger spot that will allow for less noisy distractions. We plan to create a large enough area to seat many more people than we could in the old store but also have an atmosphere that is a little more serene. We look forward to providing even more space to highlight our local authors and local products -- one of the sections in our store that we take the most pride in. We believe that what makes Nashville special is what helps make us special as well.

Are you glad you made the move?
Yes! In our new store, we have approximately 20% more space than we had in the old location. This allowed us to enhance our music offerings, something we've always longed to do, given that we are in the music capital of the US! It also allowed us to refurbish and expand our bistro with a large space dedicated for group events, and a private room available for receptions and other special occasions. It already is drawing a lot of interest from groups that want to hold meetings and take advantage of being in a great bookstore, as well as having the opportunity to buy the fare from our wonderful bistro. We foresee using it in more creative ways to bring books and readers together.

More room also means more couches and chairs for people to get comfortable while engaging with books. Additionally, we have given magazines a thorough revamping as it relates to our supply fulfillment strategy. You will see our selection of periodicals increase greatly from the old store as we head into the fall. Finally, and very importantly, we were able to build our own bathrooms!

Davis-Kidd is proud to be one of the most respected book retailers in the nation, and we realize that we could never have achieved 25 years of success without you, our loyal customers. We truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to fill out a comment card, email us, or stop to chat with a bookseller. We've already made several changes based on your suggestions -- such as improving the lighting over the bistro -- and we're always looking forward to hearing from you.

As always, I am available to any of our customers that want to contact me -- and so many do. Please feel free to e-mail me at neil@josephbeth.com

Neil Van Uum
Owner, Davis-Kidd Booksellers
I'm glad to see Neil address these issues in a public way. He has always had trouble with the Nashville store (of so he says). The customers have been reticent to change, no matter the change. While a full-time employee I definitely questions some decisions he made but I'm not a business owner so I couldn't say much, I could just question.

I hope DK thrives, it's a wonderful and unique place for employees and customers alike. I highly recommend all book, chocolate and "fancy" soap lovers to shop there.
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