Borders Sources Nationally, Merchandises Locally

Nov 24, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Borders Books may be a large national chain, but the retailer understands that the quickest path to maximizing growth is by catering to the needs of local consumers.

According to a Washington Post report, Borders’ has sought to bring new stores to underserved and emerging communities.

A Borders Books in the Prince George’s County town of Landover, Maryland is one such unit. The majority of consumers in the area are affluent African-Americans. The only other
county in the US with an African-American majority and median household incomes above $50,000 per year is Georgia’s Dekalb County.

In contrast to stores that serve mostly white neighborhoods, the Landover location has given a higher merchandising profile to literature written by or about African-Americans.
Toni Morrison’s “Love” and Connie Briscoe’s “P.G. County,” were two titles prominently displayed when the Washington Post visited the store.

Moderator’s Comment: What lessons are to be learned from Borders Books site location and merchandising practices?

The success it has had to date has encouraged Borders to look for locations in communities with African-American majorities such as Landover and those where
other ethnic minorities have demonstrated buy power.

The key, as Borders told the Post, is to cater to local tastes. The retailer says, “about half the titles in each company location are specific to
the community. The company’s buying department works with the store manager to tailor the titles to the demographic.”
Anderson – Moderator

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