Seeing Your Store in a Whole New Light: Paz & Associates to Lead Wi3's 'What a Great Bookstore' & 'Designed to Sell'

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Mark Kaufman and Donna Paz Kaufman

The American Booksellers Association's Third Annual Winter Institute, to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 24 - 27, 2008, will feature two new sessions on store design and merchandising presented by the bookstore training group Paz & Associates.

Headed by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman, Paz & Associates offers popular bookselling workshops and consulting services on many aspects of bookstore design, management, and communication. At the Winter Institute, the Kaufmans will present "What a Great Bookstore! Inspiring Store Designs" and "Designed to Sell: Professional Merchandising & Signage to Boost Sales" as part of ABA's two days of free educational programming offering insights to booksellers at all stages in their careers.

"What a Great Bookstore! Inspiring Store Designs" will be presented on Friday, January 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Donna Paz Kaufman told BTW that through this session, attendees can expect to gain a better sense of the total landscape of a bookstore.

"There are parts of store real estate that are more valuable than others," she said, adding that booksellers often miss opportunities to direct traffic throughout the entire store. Paz Kaufman noted that booksellers will benefit from the session's discussions of traffic flow and physical layout to maximize a store's effectiveness. This is done, according to Paz Kaufman, "by taking a bird's-eye view" of stores through visuals -- including many photos of stores around the world as well as diagrams.

"Our technique," Paz Kaufman said, "is to demonstrate through our visuals what bookstores can do, and sometimes, what they fail to do. We want booksellers to view their stores through the eyes of their customers."

The second Paz session, "Designed to Sell: Professional Merchandising & Signage to Boost Sales," will be held on Saturday, January 26, from 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Paz Kaufman stressed that this session aims to help booksellers increase sales dramatically, while keeping expenditures down. "Our concern is what can be done on small budgets to make stores more engaging and exciting -- lots of time will be spent on signage."

Signage, she told BTW, is inexpensive to do well, but is very easy to forget about. "With fresh eyes, booksellers can return to their stores and see the potential to increase sales without any new marketing plans or consultants, just small changes with big results," she said.

Noting that clutter in displays is a common problem for bookstores, Paz Kaufman emphasized, "Stores can create excellent displays. With proper instruction, these can be so easy -- we see time and again that simple is best. Sometimes we are trying too hard."

Again, Paz Kaufman said, booksellers will learn much by example -- from photos of stores in which displays overwhelm rather than engage customers, as well as from stores that create a refuge from the chaotic world outside.

"Customers are looking for havens from the consumer culture," she said. "With more clutter, the stores can hardly achieve that welcome break. We are at a disadvantage because our stores have so much product.

"We encourage booksellers to be in the customers' shoes, and to understand why they are coming into the store -- the bookseller needs to meet the emotional needs that prompted customers to come in, balanced with making significant sales. We marry those two." --Nomi Schwartz