The company's press release touted the infallible awesomeness of the new, 32,000 square-foot space, which will include one of those exotic, hard-to-find coffeehouses called "Starbucks." But Hair Balls wanted to find out why the company would want to shutter a unique store housed in a historic building and open yet another big-box book behemoth. After 25 years, was it no longer profitable? Was it not practical to maintain both the Bookstop and the new store?
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David Deason, B & N's vice president of development told us via e-mail: "Our lease has expired and the space has simply become too small for the services we can offer our customers. Our business model has changed and it is appropriate for us to move on." He also stated that "We loved our ties to the Alabama Theatre. At the time we moved into the theater, we were at the leading edge of retail; pioneers, really, in utilizing the theater. But the landscape has changed dramatically and the time has come for us to move on. We were great custodians of the space and we support the community's efforts to maintain the theater."
At least it's nice to know that the company supports the community's efforts, although closing the store is a curious way of expressing said support. But the good news is that "long-time employees" of the Bookstop will keep their jobs.
Weirdly, though, Deason insisted that "We think the new [store] will be a refreshing change of pace as well. The architecture of the new store is unique to this location and provides an enhanced shopping experience and ambiance that could not be provided in the prior store."
We agree with him on that -- we're pretty sure no new store could provide the same kind of ambiance as a historic movie theater. But it can probably provide the same kind of ambiance as every other Barnes & Noble in the world. Or wait, are we thinking of Borders? You'll have to forgive us -- sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.