Penguin Random House Canada to Host Unique Event for Specialty Retailers

By Mario Toneguzzi

Penguin Random House Canada has discovered a unique and innovative way to connect specialty retailers to its books.

Following on the success of a gift show last fall, the company is holding another event for retailers this Spring in Toronto.

Mary Giuliano, director of independent retail sales for Penguin Random House Canada, said the company has “fabulous space” at its office at 320 Front Street West where it can host its gift show.

“We have a ginormous room that is actually three rooms that we can make into one very big room. We’ll basically have a showroom setup with different vignettes of different books. So we have space for cookbooks, food and drink, a space for kids books, a space for literature, a space for interior design or art books, for example.”

The idea is to expose specialty retailers to books associated with their business. It’s a fantastic opportunity for retailers to come to Penguin Random House Canada’s office and see a showcase of its books in relevant categories that they might be interested in adding to their retail assortment.

Retailers have an opportunity to chat with sales reps about titles and the company’s processes, open an account if they don’t have one already, place an order on the spot and enjoy snacks and complimentary swag bags.

The Penguin Random House Spring Gift Show will run Sunday May 27 and Monday May 28 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

“So if you’re a florist for example a really good way to increase the value of your purchase is adding something to it. And one of the easiest things to add is a book. There’s a book for every retailer out there. If you’re a florist, we have flower books,” says Giuliano.

[Penguin Random House Offices at 320 Front St. W. in Toronto]

[Penguin Random House Offices at 320 Front St. W. in Toronto]

“A book is an easy way to add an incremental sale to your main thing that you’re selling.”

If a retailer is interested in a specific topic, Penguin Random House will be able to curate a list electronically for them.

“We want to make it as convenient and simple for anybody to attend who is a specialty retailer, existing account or new account,” adds Giuliano.

“A lot of people look at books and have no idea how the book world works and there’s small stores who don’t have a lot of time to research. How do I open an account? How do I get my hands on those books? So we want them to come out and take a look at what we have to offer and we can open an account with them, explain our terms and really hand hold them while they go through the process and give them the stuff they need to make it really simple to add to their average sale in their store.”

Its first gift show was held in October.

“We know we will continue to attend the regular gift shows that happen across the country. We will still go to the Toronto Gift Show and Alberta and this year we decided to give Vancouver Gift Show another try. But what we realized is that we have this huge space,” explains Giuliano.

['Penguin shop' on the street level at 320 Front st. W. in Toronto]

['Penguin shop' on the street level at 320 Front st. W. in Toronto]

“We’re very well located in downtown Toronto so why not take advantage of the space and the location that we have and encourage existing accounts as well as new accounts, like small mom and pop stores downtown. We all know there are neighbourhoods in every city where there’s a resurgence of small independent retail, so we have this in house gift show for them to come into the office at a time that may be more convenient for them.”

The gift show is located on one of the three floors the company occupies in the office tower.

“We do however have a shop on the ground level - the Penguin Shop - which is a very small shop. It’s 158 square feet and is a very Instagrammable space and super cool space that features a variety of books as well as Penguin merchandise . . . where we sell to the public,” says Giuliano.


Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email:

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