Beehive values curiosity. It is how we find fresh insights and make meaningful connections between what’s happening in the world around us and the work we do every day. To foster our curiosity, we regularly conduct CQ Field Studies – the CQ stands for Curiosity Quotient. A member of the Beehive team receives $150 to go experience something that intrigues or inspires them, and then reports back on what they learned.   Wandering aisles to browse book covers in small, specialty bookshops in the Twin Cities or while traveling to a new corner on the map is one of my favorite newfound hobbies. So, when I learned the Barnes & Noble at the Galleria opened one of the retailer’s four national bookstore-kitchen concepts in Minn., I was curious to see if the big brand could win me over.  

What’s your “CQ”? In other words, what were you curious to explore?

How does Barnes & Noble Kitchen, located in a luxury shopping center, create an unforgettable in-store experience to drive foot-traffic in a highly competitive bookseller market?  

Describe the experience you selected.

The Barnes & Noble Kitchen is a retail space tailored to fit the needs and preferences of the community. Upon entering, I immediately noticed the warm, inviting colors and textures and was pleasantly surprised by the locally-sourced menu selection. The dual restaurant-store sends a welcome invitation to cozy up with a book and maybe even a glass of wine.   The B&N Kitchen caters to its audience well, offering a wide-array of local craft beer, wine, coffee and tea, and a selection of food from favorite local partners: Pastries from Patisserie 46, bread from Rustica Bakery and a menu that fits the shopping center’s look and feel, sophisticated yet approachable.   When planning my visit, I opted to attend a book-signing with local chef and author Amy Thielen to learn about her recent memoir, “Give a Girl a Knife.” The store design itself creates the perfect backdrop for this type of event, however, I felt as though the brand missed an opportunity to maximize its unique restaurant space.   A few minimal upgrades could significantly elevate the event to create a community-focused foodie experience. Think less podium Q&A set-up and more dinner party-style by utilizing the restaurant’s large farm table paired with small bites and wine tastings personally curated by chef Amy.  

How might your experience translate into how we work with clients (this industry or others)?

  1. Desire for simplicity and mindfulness in a fast-paced world. It’s important for brands to recognize that at our core, each of us has a deeply-rooted human need to unplug from a highly-sensory world. Oftentimes, it’s the things of the past, or the simple experiences that ground us, like flipping through a paperback with a cup of tea or gathering a group of friends for a book club. Another retailer leading in the mindfulness space? Lululemon launched a Mindfulosophy corner in its NYC store with Zen pods—or comfy cushions and custom meditation headphones—for customers to steal a moment to quiet the noise and re-center.


  1. Design branded experiences “made” for your audience. Whether customers walk into a store, pop-up event, or you’re planning an internal event for employees, the audience should feel as though the space was made with them in mind. The design, look and feel should be set around elements that tie back to the community, organization or company culture. Barnes & Noble at the Galleria hits it home in this category with a locally-sourced menu and curated bookshelves showcasing celebrated Minnesota authors.


  1. Pay attention to triggers. Map out the customer journey from start to finish and seek out opportunities to surprise and delight your audience along the way. Both big and small details can elevate the moment to make a lasting impression. Brands in it for the long run in this playing field: The Mall of America’s #Twizzard – tweet activated blizzard – campaign on Black Friday and Airbnb’s experiences feature to help adventurous travelers make meaningful connections abroad.

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