April 17, 2005

Competing with WM: Portsmouth, NH

The entry of Wal-Mart and other big box stores does NOT destroy downtowns, it reconfigures them. A good example is Portsmouth, New Hampshire's RiverRun Bookstore:

Independent-minded - One local bookstore owner is optimistic about the future. RiverRun Bookstore, in downtown Portsmouth, recently passed its third anniversary. Sales are strong, and owner Tom Holbrook believes the store will thrive into the next decade and beyond.

That is good news for Seacoast readers and is somewhat surprising in a business that often seems ruled by Amazon.com, big chain stores such as Barnes & Noble, and retailers that include BJs, Target and Wal-Mart.

Holbrook attributes RiverRun´┐Żs success to solid market research, which revealed that Portsmouth needed a bookstore.

"I knew that the reasons other stores had closed were not the usual ones," Holbrook says.

Stroudwater Books went under with its parent company Bookland of Maine. Little Professor closed when its owners decided to move on. Holbrook filled the vacuum with the type of store he feels the downtown needs.

The key is personalized service. More details and a photo here. Mr. Holbrook knows his niche:
And Holbrook adds, "If you know exactly what you want, it makes sense to order it online and have it sent to your door."

Posted by Kevin on April, 17 2005 at 09:23 AM