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Giant Chengdu book store opens

Award-winning book retailer Fang Suo Commune has opened another stunning store – this time in Chengdu, China.

Two more are planned later this year – one in Chongqing in March and another in Qingdao later in the year. It is already planning a Shanghai store for 2017.

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The original Fang Suo Commune store, in Guangzhou was named the world’s best retail store in 2013 in the prestigious World Retail Congress Awards. According to Chinese news reports the store turns over as much as 1.5 million yuan (US$240,000) a day, although books account for just 35 per cent of that figure.

The Fang Suo concept is more than a retail store. The founders want to encourage shoppers to relax and ‘hang out’ in store, as well as to shop. It features a cafe, a home living collection and space for cultural events.

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The 4000sqm Chengdu store officially opened at the end of January but during a two-month long ‘soft opening’ it attracted between 7000 and 20,000 visitors per day – twice the number of Guangzhou.

“A brick-and-mortar bookstore that only sells books is unable to survive in the digital age,” Fang Suo Commune chief consultant Liao Mei-li said at the Chengdu opening ceremony.
“However, what’s amazing about the book industry is that it can do crossovers with many other industries such as beverages and movies. There is a market for such cross-industry bookstores,” Liao said.

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“To achieve business success, a cross-industry bookstore needs a big enough scale. But most importantly, we need a professional team to operate it. The leading members in Fang Suo’s team all have more than a decade of experience in the book or retail industry,” Liao said.

The two-storey store, located in Taikoo Li Mall, features a 100 metre long display of books on either side of a giant room and handcrafts selected from all over the world on display tables in the centre.

Footnote: Liao was a co-founder of Taiwan’s Eslite Bookstore, one of the nation’s largest booksellers, which has since expanded into Hong Kong.

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