Shakespeare & Co – and its 7 million titles

Dane Neller recalls when she learned Amazon 4-star sells books at The SoNo Collection mall,

Dane Neller recalls when she learned Amazon 4-star sells books at The SoNo Collection mall, which he had long planned for his own bookstore’s first Connecticut location.

Neller’s iconic Manhattan shop Shakespeare & Co. is coming to South Norwalk regardless — and with its newfangled machine that can print and bind books on the spot from a library of some 7 million titles, offers perhaps the closest bricks-and-mortar equivalent to the online Amazon shopping experience.

With The SoNo Collection now listing Shakespeare & Co. on a list of future tenants, Neller confirmed the plan on Tuesday to Hearst Connecticut Media, without providing a target date for a grand opening.

Neller, who has undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University, said he had hoped to open last year at The SoNo Collection, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay.

“It is a beautiful new mall,” Neller said. “Malls got pretty hurt by the pandemic but it appears that, hopefully, we are coming out the other end.”

Since The SoNo Collection’s inception heading into the 2019 holidays, developer and operator Brookfield Properties has sought to differentiate the mall with a mix of unique retailers and an extensive menu of dining options.

Today, The SoNo Collection remains the only Connecticut option for those wanting to shop at Amazon 4-star, Bloomingdale’s and Camp. But the mall has yet to fill out a restaurant row on West Avenue that is the main gateway to its parking garages and street-level entrances.

After losing nearly $1.9 billion in the first half of 2020 when malls shuttered nationally to limit the spread of COIVD-19, Brookfield Properties rebounded with $1.4 billion in profits in the first six months of this year. Entering July, the company reported a 92 percent occupancy rate at its nearly 120 malls and shopping centers, which include Waterbury’s Brass Mill Center.