Book publisher Penguin Random House has launched an innovative 'Penguin Shop' retail store concept in downtown Toronto. Although it may be small, the retail space is packed with not just books, but with considerable innovation that allows for a remarkable degree of functionality.
The 158 square foot Penguin Random House store is located in the lobby of 320 Front Street West, which also houses the Canadian corporate headquarters of Penguin Random House upstairs. The bright retail space acts as a beacon within the office building lobby, and will become a draw for Penguin Random House 'superfans', who seek-out the company's offerings globally. The store sells limited and special editions of reader favourites, book-related merchandise, and branded swag including Penguin Classics mugs, notebooks, and tote bags. The Penguin Shop also provides access to the people who create its books: it will launch with a robust 'Penguin Picks' program that features favourite titles from authors and from the company's editors, designers, and other staff.
The innovative Penguin Random House retail concept was designed by award-winning Toronto-based firm figure3, which has been responsible for creating some of the country's most unique retail spaces. Vice President Marjorie Mackenzie explained how the new Penguin Random House retail space addresses figure 3's 'Seven Principles' (described in detail here) which involves its retail spaces being open & social, compelling, engaging, focused, compatible, constantly evolving, and 'ownable'.
The challenge to designing the space, Ms. Mackenzie explained, was to create a space using these seven principles in just 158 square feet. The store is certainly compelling -- its branded orange colouring is engaging and positive, set off with the space's bright lighting. Creating an 'open' space was particularly challenging, and figure3 met this by utilizing an open storefront with an interior that can be modified and manipulated for different purposes as seen fit. The north side of the space features a series of branded book 'spines' -- the back units are shelving which can slide out of the wall into the store via ceiling tracks, while the first three 'book spines' conceal storage and the store's POS system.
The space is multi-functional -- besides being a retail space, the new store can function as a gathering area for author book signings, and can be modified and themed depending on holidays and events. Ms. Mackenzie explained how Penguin Random House wanted the new space to be 'Instagramable', so figure3 set out to make the small store open, to be particularly photogenic. The Toronto store is, in some respects, also a testing ground for new products, innovative marketing campaigns, and consumer engagement initiatives.
*Photos were supplied.