Saturday, October 16, 2010

University Park's Barnes & Noble Closing? Say it ain't so . . .

The Agora in Athens.
Athens had its Agora, Rome its Forum, London its markets and pubs. And South Philly ... the corner deli. They are all much the same. A place to meet, shop, eat & drink, gossip, and let the kids run around a little with friends. Now, air-conditioning and automobiles later, we have malls, plazas, and stores the size of the Colosseum, but our places are not so much different than the places of ancient Greece.

Which brings me to the not so happy point ---

On December 31, we will lose a big part of the unofficial meeting place for many Fort Worthians, the Barnes & Noble in University Village Park. And everyone I talk to has the same reaction to its closing, something like, "Now where are we going to go?"

It has become, in the ten years at that location, a "get-a-way" from the job or the kids, a meeting place for joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and cigar smokers. It is our "public house," as it were, where we grab a cup of coffee, meet a friend to chat, or just sit down with a book and a cappuccino. Couples like it, shoppers like it, husbands like it, children like it. It's the starting point for walking, talking, shopping, and coffee drinking, and it just kind of works.

And we all hate to hear it's going away.

There are the stated or public reasons for the closing. The lease is up and Barnes and Noble doesn't want to pay the high rates of that commercial space. The shopping center people can't be blamed for asking the rate the market will bear. And B&N is looking to cut costs. The company itself is up for sale. It's share of the book business is steadily declining, suffering from a two sided attack: Amazon and online sales of printed books, and the new e-book sales for readers like the Kindle, Nook, and iPad. That doesn't leave much room for growth for the old bookstore.

Well, chin up. Something will take its place. I hear the Starbucks' Store is staying, which is some consolation.

But to the Barnes & Noble folks. Thank you. You have a great store, friendly staff, and you make everyone feel welcome. It won't be the same without you.



Jennifer said...

Oh that's awful! We go there so frequently after mass and brunch at Panera.

John said...

I never liked B&N in general because they made you pay (or at least used to) to join their rewards program. I can do that at Border's for free. In fact, I think Border's now gets more of my book business than amazon.

I also never understood why bookstores (especially those with coffee service) are a popular hangout. In fact, I don't know why coffee joints are a popular hangout.

I am certain that you and others will miss B&N and at the same time I'm certain you'll find somewhere else. Someone told me there's a coffee joint over by Montgomery Plaza that's a nice place to spend some time.

This is just my opinion - I could be wrong.

Francis Shivone said...

Jenn -- yea, it's a bummer.

John -- I've been a bookstore lover since I was a kid, it's one of the few shopping experiences I actually enjoy. The Borders on Hulen south of I20 was the best bookstore in the area in my opinion. High book shelves, good and even obscure books, and the right atmosphere. I'm not sure if it's still there.

My problem with Montgomery Plaza is that the design discourages walking, which is a requirement of a good meeting place.

Anyway, appreciate your comments.

mhoban said...

Yep. Borders on south hulen is long gone. Used
to be a favorite hangout for me. But remember
the indie book stores? How I lamented their passing. I'm afraid that printed books will soon be gone as well.

Stephanie said...

with kids in preschool down the street from that b&n, i am HEARTBROKEN. it was so nice to occasionally splurge on a book, sit down, and re-enter the world of adults after i dropped the kids off for the morning. or drop my car at the carwash and walk over for meet friends and then go shopping. to take my son to pick out a book on a rainy day and play with the trains... i could go on and on. i am so sad.

CoreaZcool said...

I like B&N because I actually buy books there. If it's left to meeting and coffee they'll never make enough money to pay the rent.

becca said...

Becca said...I am sad that such a wonderful store will not be there anymore!My husband and I liked to finish off a weekend dinner out with going by and browsing, checking out the new books, and buying a lot of them! I can't imagine that the landlords want to lose their main "anchor tenant"...B&N is the main reason people go to that center.