University Park Village to lose Barnes & Noble, despite grassroots appealsOctober 29, 2013
A. Lee Graham
More than 1,500 Facebook “likes” weren’t enough to save Barnes & Noble Inc.’s University Park Village location as the landlord announced the bookseller’s final decision to close late Monday.
“We have confirmation from Barnes & Noble that the store at University Park Village will close at the end of the year,” said Jessi Fausett, marketing director for Glimcher Realty Trust.
The Ohio-based landlord owns the shopping center and has fielded phone calls and emails from loyal customers since the bookseller announced plans to pull out of the location, as well as its downtown Sundance Square space.
It cited lower retail sales, not to mention operating in an area not traditionally conducive to retail traffic, in its decision to close the latter location.
But losing the University Park Village store led several determined customers to save the beloved store. Not only did they bombard the landlord and bookseller with phone calls and emails, but they also created a “Save Barnes & Noble at University Park Village” Facebook page. Hours before Glimcher’s Monday announcement, the page had 1,582 “likes,” with 1,247 users “talking about this.”
Debra Million, who lives just east of the store in the Berkeley Place neighborhood, mobilized fellow customers to save the bookstore. She was crestfallen at the bookseller’s apparent final decision and described the store as more of a “community gathered center” than a mere bookstore, where she, her daughters and many others have bought books, attended author signings and participated in high school holiday wrapping fundraisers at what’s become a neighborhood fixture.
The bookseller’s University Park Village lease expires at the end of January 2014, but the company must vacate the premises a month earlier to allow the landlord to prepare the space.
Despite the pullout, a Barnes & Noble representative does not dismiss reopening at a different location.
“I would certainly expect that, over time, we’ll find a way to come back and find another home there [in Fort Worth],” said David Deason, Barnes & Noble’s vice president of development, commenting recently.
“We’d love to stay,” Deason said of retaining the University Park Village store. “We’ve done everything we can on our end to make that happen, but the objective of the current owner is to divide that space up and have higher rents from multiple tenants.”
Exactly what tenants will fill the space – and whether any leasing decisions have been made – has not been made public.