Make-over Opportunities at Left Bank Books

Even though we’ve worked on several “bookstore makeover” projects by simply looking at photos and talking with staff, it’s amazing just how much more can be gleaned from an on-site visit. So one day last week, we visited Left Bank Books to meet the owners, Kris Kleindienst and Jarek (Jay) Steele, and their staff, to gain a better understanding of the neighborhood, get a first-hand look at both the opportunities and challenges, take some measurements, and begin the fun project of developing ways to make this amazing store even more visually appealing. After studying the sales and inventory reports, it’s clear that the store is doing so much right … so our primary task is to play up their strengths by fine-tuning the way in which their inventory is presented and displayed.

The entrance to Left Bank Books

This is what you see upon entering the store. There is a stairwell behind the case which leads to a large (and important!) lower level.

What’s on the list of possibilities so far?
1) Develop a ‘Wow’ factor at the front entrance
2) Make the staircase leading to the lower level more obvious, since it’s now usually overlooked
3) Relocate the Children’s Section to a separate department, giving this important category a space of its own
4) Change interior fixture layout to provide more focal point display space
5) Develop a more consistent visual identity through signage and messaging
6) Regroup merchandise based on customer interests
7) Spotlight their knowledge and love of books by creating some stunning displays

Back room finds at Left Bank Books

We went into the back room to find items we could use to merchandise focal point displays.

So we’re looking at light fixtures and paint colors, replacing a low drywall on one side of the stairwell with a new railing that would open up the passage to the lower level, refinishing tables stashed away in the basement (and the owners’ garage), creating new section signs and shelf-talker templates, and rearranging current fixtures. Oh, and finding a special place for two unique wooden chairs donated by local artist Mary Engelbreit! There’s so much potential with what already exists within the four walls.

Jay is also posting on his blog – – updating customers with details about the make-over and the process of planning for the store’s next chapter in its 43-year history.