It was last June when the old Curious George book store in Harvard Square fell on hard times. Established in 1995, the store closed following 16 years in business and it seemed that was that. But, much to the delight of children, parents and grandparents from Cambridge and further afield, the Curious George book store is back, but with a twist.
In an age when independent book stores are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and other Harvard Square institutions are closing, Adam Hirsch, new owner and proprietor of the Curious George bookstore, has approached this business venture in a different fashion.
“Our business plan is a little bit different,” he said. “We’re seeking to have a more balanced product mix between books, unique merchandise, apparel and toys.”
Hirsch wants to move away from the traditional façade of a bookstore and bring the Curious George bookstore into the modern retail world. “If you have a good experience here and you end up going back to London or Nashville or wherever, we want to maintain that relationship with you through our e-commerce experience, where we are going to have our exclusive merchandise,” he said.
This is the only Curious George store in the world and as such will provide a real economic boost to the Harvard Square area, according to Denise Jillson, executive director at Harvard Square Business Association. Away from the monetary benefits of the store’s re-opening, children and parents are also set to be pleased with the beloved monkey’s return.
“To have a bookstore like Curious George leave and then make a comeback is incredibly meaningful,” Jillson said. “It really is a destination for a lot of people, and for the past year hundreds and hundreds of children have been turned away when they go to the store and they can’t get in.”
With the store’s soft opening already in full swing, store manager Broche Fabian has been delighted with the public’s response.
“It’s been booming. Three to four staff people are on the floor at all times,” she said. “We are selling out of things already and it’s day two of being open.”
Customers have clearly been enamored with the newly renovated store. As parents picked out clothes for their children and the youngsters flipped through the vast array of Margret and H.A. Rey’s colorful Curious George books while ogling T-shirts, dolls, balls, games and arts supplies, there is a real sense that George will prove popular in the long run.
“We missed it when they closed and we are glad they’re back,” said Harvard Square resident and grandparent, Sam Allosso. “I think it feels better than the last store, the atmosphere is good.”
Former school teacher Elizabeth Kelly, of Cambridge, had been coming to the Curious George store for years. She has been similarly impressed with the changes made to the new store.
“I like the set up, you can move around in it, the other one was really cluttered, she said “I like the merchandise and I like the graphics [paintings on wall].”
From walking through the store, there is a real mixture of people. Locals and tourists, grandparents, parents and children are all enjoying what the world’s only Curious George store has to offer.
The new store is set to be officially unveiled with a grand opening ceremony on Apr. 28. There will be a sidewalk procession from the Cambridge Public Library through Harvard Square and Actor Shakespeare Project, The Rebels and Filme X will all be present. The ribbon cutting will take place at the store at 12.30 and everyone in attendance will receive a free banana.
This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.