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Store Check: Licensed Offerings at B&N

I visited a local Barnes & Noble this week, one of the “last remaining massive bookstores” in the city, at Union Square, New York. It’s a bookstore, but I’m not checking out the books. One of the biggest growth areas for the chain bookseller is toys, games, and gifts/novelties. Here’s a look at the licensed options that B&N was pushing last week:

It’s Father’s Day on June 18, and there were several end-tables featuring licensed merch—many of which didn’t make sense. Here, we can see figures for Captain America, Batman, Deadpool, Star Wars, The Flash, Marvel Avengers, and more. My favorite “gift idea” is the mini-beer pong kit.

Across from this stand is one of the first displays you’ll see off of the escalators. Disney’s Tsum Tsums are at the forefront, followed by DC Super Hero Girls.

The biggest draw for me are the display cases, which feature more action figures. From front to back, we can see Star Wars, assorted anime properties like Dragon Ball Z (with boxes for super hero brands below), Star Wars, and Pokémon. You have to look for the Disney figures, but at least the boxes for the figures are in the right place.

Some video game brands can also be seen at the back of the store, like an end-case for Minecraft and a stand for Five Nights at Freddy’s.

This is one of the busiest (licensing-related, anyway) end-caps in the store, featuring products from KISS (the only music brand I could find), Doctor Who, Pac-Man, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, (more) Five Nights at Freddy’s, Power Rangers, The X Files, and X-Men. At least they didn’t have clearance stickers pasted on them.

If you think that just one pop-up stand for Funko seems odd (but just look at the retro arcade Gamestation systems at the bottom—what are they doing there?) you’re right. There are two entire shelve units dedicated to Funko figurines, t-shirts, and accessories.

On the right, B&N also has a small electronics section. Brands include Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Minions, Hello Kitty, Star Wars, and Doctor Who.

And in the clearance section (different floor), I spied among the vast expanse of coloring books (a dying trend?) giant Star Wars boxed sets at the low, low price of $89.99.

Finally, at the bottom floor was the best carrousel of all, featuring blind boxes of collectible figures and other novelties. Doctor Who, Star Trek, Sesame Street, Madeline, Olivia, Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Smurfs, My Little Pony, and Frozen were neatly segregated from non-branded options.

Near the front of the store, among the “essential journals,” were leather-bound tomes from Pokémon, Wizarding World, and last but not least, Wonder Woman. Interestingly, this was one of the few Wonder Woman merchandise options available in the store, following the opening week of her movie.


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