Joseph-Beth's Lexington store being completely remodeled

ssloan@herald-leader.comJune 1, 2012 

Joseph-Beth Booksellers is undergoing a complete remodeling of its store at The Mall at Lexington Green.

The iconic bookstore will remain open during the renovation, which is expected to last a few months. When completed, the store will add Baby Bundles of Lexington as a store within a store, move its Avant Travel agency, create a coffee bar at the main entrance and renovate its Brontë Bistro restaurant.

"It's time for us to make sure we reinvest back into the business and make our store everything it should be," Joseph-Beth CEO Mark Wilson said.

The first phase of the renovation, which includes moving Avant Travel to the store's former music space, is nearing completion.

"We analyzed what customers are buying, and a lot of that music was never touched," Wilson said.

The store is now offering a smaller selection of music and DVDs, focusing on new releases, top-selling DVDs and easy-listening music. The latter was favored in customer surveys. Even with the smaller selection, the store sold 8 percent more in music and DVDs in its first week after the change, Wilson said.

"We know we're moving the right stuff," he said.

The second phase of the remodel will see Baby Bundles, a children's boutique that sells clothing, gifts, bedding and décor, move into the lower level of the store from its exterior space at Lexington Green near Leather Inc. The move will make "that whole lower lakeside area into a children's area," Wilson said.

Marie Fore, a co-owner of Baby Bundles, said the move will "create a really positive shopping experience for our customers."

At the same time, Joseph-Beth will realign its book sections to flow more logically. That will include having the home section lead into the crafts and cooking areas.

"Previously, remodels were done in small segments," Wilson said. "Now we stepped back and looked at the whole approach."

The store also is upgrading those book displays. For example, the cooking area will resemble a kitchen.

"For us, we think of this as our customers' homes," Wilson said. "We want them to feel comfortable in their homes."

The final phase includes remodeling the Brontë Bistro. Among the improvements will be new booths; expanded seating in view of the water outside; and a revised menu, offering more regional favorites.

The remodeling is another major investment by Cincinnati-based Joseph-Beth since it emerged from bankruptcy protection last year as a smaller company.

Since then, the company has begun an overhaul of its information-technology software. It also bought a former Borders store in Northern Kentucky and opened its fourth store in addition to spaces in Lexington and Cincinnati, and a health-themed bookstore in Cleveland.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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