Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops is opening its fifth bookstore, in the Bay
View neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wis., an area Schwartz general manager
Mary McCarthy called "an old ethnic neighborhood that had gone down but
is coming back and is very cool. It's a beautiful neighborhood."
The store is opening informally a few hours a day this week "so that we can figure out what we haven't got," McCarthy told Shelf Awareness
. Its official opening is this Friday. The timing is not for
Harry Potter, although the store will hold a midnight party. Instead,
it's for former owner David Schwartz, who died last year and would have
been 67 on July 15. "It's been a difficult year," McCarthy said. "You
draw in. You don't want to expand or do anything
new. But David wouldn't have wanted that, and we're opening the store
in his honor."
The 3,200-sq.-ft. store is smaller than the other Schwartz shops, which
range from 8,000-10,000 square feet each; still, it will carry about 80% of
the other stores' average inventory.
The company is "testing some new bells and whistles" in the Bay View
store and will carry DVDs, a new item, McCarthy said. Some aspects of the store were
influenced by advice from the retail consulting company run by Paco
Underhill, author of The Call of the Mall
and Why We Buy
It counseled, among other things, that Schwartz upgrade shelf talkers,
have a big sign with information rather than shelves of books behind
the information desk, use Schwartz's erratically applied Boswell logo consistently, give customers
room in the store and improve lighting. ("We have such good lighting you
can do brain surgery here," McCarthy said.) Ideas that work in Bay View will be implemented in other Schwartz stores.
As with Schwartz's four existing stores, the Bay View shop was designed
by president Carol Grossmeyer, David Schwartz's widow. "He would be so
proud of her," McCarthy commented. "It's gorgeous."
Schwartz has transferred experienced staff to the new store from its
other stores. The six staffers "know our culture" and now constitute
the best of all the Schwartz staffs, McCarthy said, adding that the
company had learned from the experience of its Racine store, which closed last year. "We
didn't have established booksellers there, and that hurt."
A main force to open the store was the local alderman, who called
McCarthy weekly, asking that Schwartz open in Bay View. "I'm Chicagoan
enough to respect the alderman, so I went down to the neighborhood with
him and met many people," McCarthy said. "There was lots of interest." When she suggested hesitantly that Schwartz might
want to open in Bay View, McCarthy learned that other staff members had the
same idea--and that many Schwartz employees live in and like the
The newest Schwartz bookshop is at 2254 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Milwaukee, Wis. 53207.