The lengthy construction of Anthropologie in the Barnes & Noble space is changing public behavior, and its unclear if that corner can regain its old status when the store and Terrain Cafe open this fall. Anthropologie by nature appeals to a much narrower demographic than a large-inventory bookstore, and you won't be able to simply hang out like you could at Barnes & Noble. Foot traffic could well be less than Amazon Books.
Amazon Books indeed has fairly good traffic considering what a tough spot they are in. After a sluggish start during which the store almost looked like it wasn't open from the outside, bright lights were installed that, in some cases, literally aim at passersby and motorists like a light cannon. Traffic began to pick up with the new lighting, and a few weeks ago, for the first time, I saw a music duo and a few spectators passing time on the Amazon corner.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos recently made a surprise but low-key visit to the Bethesda Row store, according to a source. One thing majorly missing is the small coffee shop/cafe that was supposed to be part of the Amazon Books bricks-and-mortar experience. Without it, you really can't hang out, and the store is simply too cramped to want to, anyway. They do have a nice selection of gadgets, toys and games, which Barnes & Noble previously provided in greater quantities, minus the Amazon tech.
But despite the few disappointments, there is a real question as to whether the power corner at Bethesda Row has moved, and that certainly presents an additional challenge to Anthropologie. Like many public use patterns at new urbanist developments, it is fascinating to watch how the public uses the available space, and not necessarily in the way the designers intended.