A few weeks ago I accused bookseller McNally Robinson of missing the plot twist following their entry into bankruptcy protection. What I said was (1) that they had expanded at the wrong time, in the wrong way and (2) that they didn’t have an effective strategy for competing with online book sales.
Well, last week McNally emerged from bankruptcy protection and Paul McNally made some public comment on what went wrong, as he saw it. The biggest single factor he cites was the failure of their Don Mills store to meet the sales targets for which they had hoped. He speculated that their strategy of community involvement maybe didn’t play as well in T-Dot, but it has also been noted that the Don Mills mall in which they were located has been a disappointment to many of its retail tenants.
It’s been announced today that McNally Robinson is closing two of its stores and have entered bankruptcy protection for restructuring.
For those not in Winnipeg, it’s worth mentioning that the independent bookseller is a local success story, having started here in 1981 and grown to have stores not only in Winnipeg, but also in Saskatoon, Toronto, and New York as well as online. Many Winnipeggers have a “feel-good” sense about supporting this local option for their book purchases, and it’s a popular spot for book launches as well. Most locations also feature a (non-Starbucks) café/restaurant of some sort, the Prairie Ink Café. To be clear, I like McNally Robinson as a bookstore. The locations I’ve been in are all large with a good selection of titles and special promotion for local authors.