January 5, 2016
Barnes & Noble takes penultimate step to exiting Queens
by Liam O’Brien
After twenty years, Barnes & Noble has officially closed their location in Forest Hills, Queens. Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska reports at DNAinfo:
Patrons who came to visit the store in its final days said they were saddened by empty shelves, left bare after the store sold hundreds of books and stationery products at 30 to 50 percent off standard pricing in the last month.
“It’s really sad,” said Priscilla Perez, 27, a lab worker from Kew Gardens, who said she shopped at the store since high school. “I’m heartbroken.”
The store, at 70-00 Austin St., which opened in 1995, announced in August that it was not able to reach an agreement over its lease with its landlord Muss Development, and would close by the end of December.
The space will be taken over by Target this summer, which means that Queens is down to one final Barnes & Noble location in Bayside—but only for a short time. The Bayside location is also set to close later this year.
While Barnes & Noble won’t claim they’re permanently vacating the borough (at least in spirit), their dwindling presence in a metropolitan center underscores a tumultuous year for the company, which recently closed the doors of its last non-university affiliated location in our nation’s capitol. As Kern-Jedrychowska reports:
“The Queens community is extremely important to us and as a result we are aggressively looking at new locations and expect to have a new store there in the future,” David Deason, the vice president of development at Barnes & Noble said in August.
Perlman said he approached the chain officials with several possible locations in Forest Hills.
Forest Hills residents, who expressed their sadness over the closing, echoed those in the story of the Bronx’s last Barnes & Noble store though the community response there led to a pivot in fortunes and the store was able to remain open. In Queens, however, despite a community petition with almost 6,300 signatures, the Forest Hills location was unable to come to a similar agreement with the landlord.
But all is not lost. Queens still sports the wonderful Astoria Bookshop, where they know a thing or two about community engagement. And Brooklyn has seen a crop of new indies open in Greenpoint, Red Hook, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Still, it remains to be seen whether the other non-Manhattan boroughs will see new sources of local bookseller expertise anytime soon, or if spiraling rents will continue replacing culture with Target.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.