Customers will be spoilt for choice when Legacy Books
opens tomorrow in Plano, Tex., a suburb of Dallas. Approximately 100,000 titles line the shelves in this 24,000-sq. ft., two-level store located in the Shops at Legacy. Next to the retail complex is a business park with 40,000 employees, and 3,500 residents occupy neighboring apartments and townhouses.
Legacy Books, in the making for a year and a half, was built from the ground up. Among its highlights are a café and patio, a demonstration kitchen, a children's section with its own events and reading space, a mezzanine devoted to genre fiction and a business section with a wi-fi bar. "It's a beautiful store," said managing partner Teri Tanner, "but the most critical thing I would like people to notice is our service and our selection."
Undertaking such a huge venture during an economic downturn isn't dampening Tanner's enthusiasm. In fact, she said, as many people become wary of corporate America, "It's a great time to open a local, independent business. There's such heightened awareness on keeping your dollars within your community and on how companies are run."
A Texas native, Tanner began her retail career in specialty apparel but found her niche in books. The main difference between the two businesses "is the ability to connect with a customer on a much more personal level--buying a white T-shirt or a red sweater versus buying a book that will help you teach your child how to read," she said. Prior to opening Legacy Books, Tanner worked in various roles at Borders Group, including regional director and director of human resources for stores. She has also been a general manager and district manager for Barnes & Noble.
Local scribes are headlining Legacy Books' nine days of grand opening festivities, which begin November 7, including Dallas resident Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter
, and Grady Spears, a North Texas restaurateur and author of The Texas Cowboy Kitchen
. A preview event is taking place on October 29 with designer Isaac Mizrahi, who will promote his new book, How to Have Style.
A minimum of three events per week will be held at the store, including some with cookbook authors, who can use the 300-sq.-ft. demonstration kitchen to show off their culinary skills. In addition, cooking classes will begin in January, occasionally led by a staffer who is a pastry chef. Tanner also plans to host a jazz brunch on Sundays.
Asked how long she has been working on developing Legacy Books, Tanner said, "I would say probably 25 years, watching and listening to customers and booksellers." That research has led her to keep the focus on books and not carry higher-end gift items. "We'll carry some very nice things that complement books," said Tanner, such as reading glasses, under-$20 travel bags and recipe holders. "Our goal is to be able to have a product that is better than anyone else's and a staff that can talk to you about it no matter what subject you're looking for," she added. "In my 20-something years of retail experience, when you take your eye off of what your specialty is and get too far away from your core business, you almost always tend to see companies struggle a little bit."
Customers will soon be taking stock of Legacy Books and its offerings, perusing its bountiful shelves and sipping glasses of wine in the café. "I'm so excited," said Tanner, who seemed remarkably composed mere days before the store's opening. "This should probably be the most stressful time, but we still laugh at the end of every day. That's when you know you're in the right business and you're around the right people."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt