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Barnes and Nobles - What Not to Do

I am writing this both as a warning to fellow tutors and as an excellent case study of what NOT to do in a business.

I do not know if it is just the Barnes and Nobles in West Bloomfield, MI or if this affects more stores nationwide. Today, when I went there, I was shocked to see a new sign at the cafe: "Starting November 11th, we will no longer be allowing tutoring nor game playing in the cafe" (or something very similar). So, be forewarned that B&N may no longer be friendly to tutors anymore (a shame since that location in particular was one of my more popular tutoring locations).

Now, as for the case study in business/marketing, this new policy makes no sense. In the evenings (when I am there), about a third of the cafe tables are being used by tutors/group studying and another third by card/rummy players. Most of these tables have plates or drinks on them, showing that these people did indeed buy from the cafe. This B&N even reserves tables for the game players, and now is forcing them to leave. It's a really poor business/marketing decision to force your paying customers to leave, especially when they are not being a disruption (even the game players are generally retired age so not noisy).

Even further damage is the bad publicity this has already started to develop and will continue to grow. I noticed a definite change in the number of cars in the lot and people in the cafe compared to previous days at the same day of the week and time. While businesses do have many rights in deciding how to run themselves, we do still have the first amendment as well as extra rights about business discrimination. I doubt this technically breaks any of those, but it is the height of hypocrisy to tell people who buy cards or games FROM the store that they can't use them IN the store and similarly that they are shunning learning in a bookstore.

To Barnes & Nobles, particularly the one at West Bloomfield, I ask if they really think they are immune to the changing reading styles nowadays. Borders just went under ... if B&N follows this policy, they will be following shortly.


Thanks. Many businesses forget about the effect of public perception in their decisions. A local Ace Hardware did a similar switchover about 3 years ago. They realized that they could make more money by narrowing the isles and bringing in teenagers to run the place (I have nothing against teenagers, but these just didn't really seem to care about the store or outdoors at all). The place went from being a nice place to visit to a store that one quickly goes in and out of, and they did it right at their peak, when they were starting to force the local Home Depot to change their methods... now, the three years later, when hardware stores are mentioned in the area, it's either Home Depot or Lowes, no longer does Ace even get mentioned.

In the end, money comes in from customers, not higher prices or more items cramped in.


Brian S.

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