What happens to a closed Barnes & Noble? I’ll tell you.

In my sleepy town, the world shuts down at 8:30 pm. Once upon a time, our town had a Barnes & Noble, and at that time, our little town stayed up until 9:00 pm., maybe even sometimes 10:00 pm. It was a sad day when they closed their doors, and I was there. I had purchased a few items, and the lady at the cashier was grief-stricken. Sure, she was losing her job, but we both knew something greater was at stake. It was and is the beginning of new era: the era of disappearing bookstores.

That was two years ago, and hopefully that cashier got another job, possibly even working at another Barnes & Noble. There’s another store a few towns over, just far enough away that I never seem to get to it.

The Barnes & Noble is usually a warehouse of a store, am I right? When it closed, it sat vacant for a long time, reminding us all that once books lived there, and coffee and couches.

But have no fear, Halloween came along….the holiday that boasts over $2.5 billion in candy sales alone. A huge warehouse with an empty come-hither, vacant, dusty space was finally in demand. What space could be better for costumes, witches, werewolves…and….

BOO!

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I got you, didn’t I? This scared the living daylights out of my son. Here he can be seen running away from this friggin place.

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That mega Halloween store is not as mega this season, and made another temporary home to right of this picture… (not shown).

Many moons since, a whole lot of bottles have moved in.

Introducing the latest occupant….Total Wine & More!

Incidentally, last summer I noticed many college-age kids camping out in the parking lot in a nearby shopping center with actual patio furniture. I imagine all these kids live with their parents and have nowhere else to go. I don’t know what they’ll do when it’s chilly out. Now would they even inhabit a Barnes & Noble?

Let me tell you one thing I know, they ain’t getting into Total Wine. It’s a kind of a slap in the face. Let’s take the last place you maybe mighta coulda hung out in kids…

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Nope…now it’s truly the parking lot for you guys.

But there is wine.

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Rows and rows of it, stacked to the ceiling.

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Kind of like books….NOT. More delicate than books. Better not let your toddler run loose. Can you imagine?

That said, I like this store. I can always find a delectable wine at a good price. Wines in all aromas, flavors, styles, for any kind of dish from regions all over the world. Germany, France, Portugal, South Africa, lots of places, and local wines, too. You have many decisions to make here. Would you like something light and crisp with a hint of pear? Perhaps, you require a more intense, full-bodied experience. Will you pair it with a dish? Maybe you need something sweet like butterscotch or vanilla. Are you in the mood for soft and elegant? Decide your mood.

Feeling confused? Just like the book recommendations at Barnes & Noble, they have a wine team here with their favorite picks.

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I chose Chuck’s* favorite, a French Luc Pirlet Cabernet Sauvignon. I honed in on the milk chocolate and dark cherry flavors. Sadly, I did not have any grilled flank steak to go with it.

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There are plenty of beer and spirits, too.

Your Froggy B…

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Let’s not forget your Pumpkinhead…

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If you want to whet your palate, you can taste. I noticed, however, that there are no chairs.

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Oh, Barnes & Nobles., this store might as well be screaming, “There are no books here. Just get drunk!” But what about a few chairs at the tasting booth? And while they’re at it, how about a few more chairs strewn about the store…

…and a couch or two, a rug, reading lamp…a glass of wine.

I’ll bring a book like old times. Now we’re talking.

What about you? Have you seen a bookstore close in your town or city? What replaced it? Do you still get out to a bookstore? Do you want to? 

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

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92 thoughts on “What happens to a closed Barnes & Noble? I’ll tell you.

      1. A glass of wine – perfect – We need to meet Amy…You may ask your friends to come to San Diego on Coronado Island – I invite you all to my concert!

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  1. We have a Waterstones bookshop. I occasionally go in to get present ideas, then I buy the books for half the price on Amazon. I know, I know, it’s my fault the bookshops are closing down 😦

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    1. I know, Alistair. I don’t blame you, and it’s not your fault. It’s Amazon’s fault. Their prices are hard to beat, and money is tight for most people. I don’t want to see bookstores completely disappear. There’s a couple of indies around here I really should start going to.

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  2. We used to have 3 or 4 book stores in our town but they all closed over the last 10 years. A Christian book store opened last year which is fine as far as it goes but if you want to see any other sort of book then you are out of luck. It is such a shame as I only buy books when I see them in a shop and I don’t like or believe in electronic books (yeah I know I sell them!).

    To me going into a book store is like entering an Aladdins Cave. I love everything about them. Now I only go into book shops on the very rare occasion that I go into London or at cultural or historic tourist attractions. My favourite is a second hand book shop on the Charing Cross road, it is on various levels and the books are from floor to ceiling everywhere, even up the stairs. I love the basement area as the books are hidden away in all these unknown alcoves and some stick out under the street and you can see people walking above you. I love that place.

    All the book stores in my town have been converted mostly into cafes or low quality eating establishments of which we all ready have too many. It’s too bad as with out book stores, I have no reason to visit the other stores so they get less of my money too.

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    1. I don’t see how you couldn’t put out ebooks as a writer these days. It seems like it is something you must offer. I’m sure there are people who only read ebooks. And then, of course, they are so much cheaper to buy and to publish.

      As for this Charing Cross bookshop! That sounds amazing. I love getting lost in a bookstore in little alcoves. It’s the only place I don’t mind dust. We have a couple of independent stores around here. I’m going to go to them now. I want to support them.

      That’s true what you say about these other places getting less of your money, especially if they are a crappy replacement. Don’t we have enough low-quality eating places already? Amazon employs people, but I’m sure not nearly as many as the jobs they took away.

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  3. Don’t get me started on bookstores. When I got to NYC, they used to litter the neighborhoods. I could spend an entire Saturday hopping from dusty aisle to aisle book browsing. There were dozens of independent mom-n’-pop joints. Then Barnes & Nobel came along with their coffee and readings and do-dads and put the independents out of business. I was very angry at them. Then Amazon came along and swallowed-up all the B&N stores. To this day I never, ever, ever buy anything on Amazon. They destroyed something that was important to me. Something that was the best part of my early years in NYC: bookstores. Shame on you, Bezos. You’re leaving the world a worse off place. Enjoy your money.

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    1. This is sad to read, Mark. I can’t imagine that NYC no longer has any indie bookstores. You think they would never go away from such a huge city with so many educated minds. And to think I’m sad about B&N leaving. That shows you. I’m going to visit the one indie store in my town now. I need to support them. It’s a little tiny store,and there’s another one in the next town over. I’m so sorry that this has been destroyed for you. I wish I had the right words to say to you, and to tell you it will be okay. We need a revolution.

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  4. Oh lord, Amy – is this the end of us, or what? I love my wine, love it. But down go the books and in comes the alcohol… seems like a mean bargain. Maybe people are just consuming their books in electronic fashion now. I sure hope so.

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    1. You better hope your town doesn’t ever get a Totally Wine & More. It truly is a mecca for all things alcohol. I don’t drink wine, so their vino selection means nothing to me, but the beer? My God, I could spend hours just going back and forth through the beer aisles.

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      1. We totally don’t have big box alcohol stuff in Ontario… it’s all controlled and owned by the government (liquor is, anyway); same storefronts, same prices, same look. It’s highly monotonous and uniform, if colourful, not at all what you might imagine in a house of unmitigated yet yummy sin and vice.

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      2. We can buy local wine at the grocery store. No independent outlets. Nothing at corner stores or anywhere else like that. I don’t mind it, actually. The stores are really nice and carry lots of different stuff.

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      3. Yeah, you can get it everywhere here! I remember once when I lived in Colorado, or was it Texas, I can’t remember….Anyway, Sundays were dry and you couldn’t buy alcohol then. That has been the only limitation I’ve experienced.

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      4. I think we can buy on Sundays now… in Quebec, just next door, you can buy it anywhere anytime. Honestly, I don’t think it makes that much difference in level of consumption. The monopoly stores here just make lots of money for our provincial government.

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      5. So far. I’m going to leave my impressions to myself for the moment. I’m a superstitious sports fan — if I say what I’m thinking I’ll be very sorry in the end. I was almost going to type something else, but no … I can’t. That’s it. We’ll see. It’s a seven game series.

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      6. 2-2 bottom of the 6th in game 2… I have a feeling the Royals are going to get outclassed by the Giants. Just a feeling. I’m the last one to say that recent World Series experience is a key determinant (I think talent and to some extent, in a 7-game series, luck wins), but the Giants seem to be calmer at the plate and on the mound.

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      7. Ah, so, you wish to spread your cursed existence across the miles that separate us?!?!?! I don’t know if I can speak with you again. This is a most dastardly thing you have done!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    2. Good to see you, Trent! Yeah, it is a mean bargain. I, of course, love a good wine. I think it’s a great store, but honestly how much wine and alcohol can you have? We already have a BevMo and a Costco, which I’m sure takes a lot of their business. Books are something else. An Amazon will never replace a bookstore. Even libraries at colleges are changing. My husband works at a community college and they don’t even have a library. It’s called a PLE – Personal Learning Environment – and it is mostly filled with computers. Not the same!

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      1. No, I sure haven’t. I’ll write this down and see if Total Wine has it. That’s some good wine out of Paso Robles. Thanks for the rec.

        You do that. Enjoy, Trent!

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  5. Oh my gosh … An Alcohol Warehouse!!!! If that was close to me, who knows how often I would visit …. even just to look because one’s eyes can’t catch everything every time.

    BTW … on the Kentucky side of the river is a huge store that reminds of me this one … amazing stock and business they do … now they’ve added their own brewery (with a tasting room) …. and a bourbon distillery …. yep … on location!!!!

    Halloween stores are temporary tenants in large, empty spaces. Meanwhile, the big stores are becoming more difficult to find … probably much due to online sales. But when I find one, they are still fun to browse.

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    1. It is, indeed, an alcohol warehouse. I tend to think of it as high-end liquor store of warehouse proportions. They really do carry a lot of great wine, Frank. They also have beer tasting as well. But wow, a bourbon distillery. Kentucky seems like the right place for that!

      Big seems to be better until they go out of business. Maybe too many of these big stores are built and they can’t be sustained. Halloween stores fill void for a few months. What to do with these vacant huge spaces otherwise. Well, why not a alcohol warehouse I guess! This does make me think though that I need to visit the little bookstores, the few that we have around here.

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  6. We still have our Barnes & Noble, Amy, but some of the locally owned bookstores have closed. So sad. Probably one of the reasons wine warehouses are flourishing is that most wines can’t be purchased online.

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    1. Bookstores are closing all over I guess. That’s a good point, Cathy. I hadn’t thought about that. I think you can purchase wine online from this wine store, but it would make more sense that you couldn’t. I wonder how they got around that one.

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  7. A Borders closed near us. I think a shoe store replaced it. But I could be totally wrong about that. There are a few independent book stores left in downtown and midtown Sacramento, and a Barnes & Noble at Arden Fair Mall. Other than that, I can’t think of any bookstores in the Sacramento area, which is somewhat discouraging given that something like 2 million people live in the area.

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    1. Guess what?! After I read your comment, I realized it was a Borders and not a Barnes & Noble that closed. Arghh!! I screwed that up. I was mad at myself for getting it wrong and thought about changing it and then I thought it was kind of telling that now I can’t even remember. Oh, how sad. It’s still a mega bookstore anyway. I guess all the Borders closed. They do have a Barnes & Noble in Citrus Heights. I would have thought they would have a few more in downtown Sac. Yep, that is discouraging. No one has time to browse at bookstores. Everyone is too busy on their smartphones.

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      1. I would so be willing to go back to a life without cell phones. I’ve never backpacked. My brother loves to backpack. I told him I want to start backpacking next year. One of the single biggest reasons is the opportunity (forced) to escape all of the technology. I may never come back.

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      2. You should totally do that! I can see how a forced situation would help. I’m attached to my phone even when I don’t want it. There it is. Somehow, it finds itself in my hands. It’s disgusting. Get it away from me!

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      3. Well … the first step is this. There is an “off” button. I go back and forth with it when I get home from work. But I’m in a pretty good run of turning the thing off as soon as I get home from work. That’s a chunk of a few hours when I’m not tethered to it. From there, it’s just an issue of finding other times when you don’t actually need it on … and turning it off during those times as well.

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      4. Seriously, I think this could be gold. It could be a funny self-help book…the lengths one will go to turn off their phone or be rid of it.

        There’s an off button? 🙂

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  8. I worked in a used bookstore that took over two floors of an old bank. I would spend hours in the vaults, going through the masses of books, old and new, that the owner used to indiscriminately buy, reading, reading, scratching my eczema from the mold. I love the internet, but those were the days.

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    1. That’s where we’re at, I guess, Brenda. We have the Internet which would never trade, but it does come at a price. Now what a unique experience this bookstore has given you, one that won’t be repeated probably by many, if anyone! That’s pretty special. 🙂

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  9. I was sad when Borders closed but I think all the Barnes and Nobles that I know of are still hanging on. It’s a sad trend, since I absolutely love those big book stores with their lovely book and coffee aroma. Soon all that will be left will be used book stores, which are great, but not exactly the same.

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    1. A lot of people don’t like the big book stores, and swear by the small independents. I think what you say is probably more true for me. I like them both in different ways. If I’m in the mood to really get lost, it’s an indie store for me, but if I’m looking to have a book now in my hands (and not an ebook), the bigger book store is a better bet. There’s a couple of small ones around here I’m going to visit after thinking about all this.

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  10. We’ve had both Borders and Barnes & Noble closures. It’s always sad to see a bookstore close. But then they opened up a BAM where the Borders was, so there’s that. I’m lucky to have an independent bookstore in my town, so it’s always fun to browse around there. Of course, the prices are more–they can’t discount like the giant chains can–but it’s nice to support them when I choose to buy a book rather than check it out from the library. Plus they can get any book for me quickly. It’s nice to have hometown service.

    As for wine, I’ve never liked it. But a nice cold beer? I’m there. 🙂

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    1. As I mentioned to another blogger, I actually meant Borders was the one that closed. Oops! That was a bumble! Remember when I was a bumble?! Apparently, I still am.

      What is a BAM? It’s true that one perk of the mega store is the discounted prices. That’s cool you have a store to go to at all. I think many towns don’t now, and then they are forced to order Amazon. I still go to my library all the time for books, too.

      Well, there’s plenty of beer here, too. Even beer tasting, too. You would like it then. 🙂

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  11. Borders closed first and I miss them more. Not a huge fan of B&N, but hate the fact that bookstores are disappearing. However, in Naperville, we have a great indie bookstore, Andersons, and my favorite, Half Price Books. Then there’s the library (and its book sale shelves.) But I think a wine store with places to sit, read and sip would be great. I imagine there are licensing issues, though. Sigh.

    janet

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    1. You know I actually meant to refer to a Borders here. That was a bumble on my part. 🙂 I don’t know how I forgot. I think it’s because Borders has been wiped out and my memory seems to be going, Janet. My only excuse. That Half Price Books sounds great, and it’s nice to have an alternative like the Andersons store. Hopefully, the libraries won’t go away.

      I’m sure if they opened it up to reading in this store, it would just turn into another bar. Right? A place you can’t really read. I’m sure there are some issues. Of course!

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  12. You can’t put a cork in the book store vibe even when the book store is years gone, it seems, huh, Amy. Lovely post. The new place’s lake of chairs and couches earned your grapes of wrath. Yay.

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    1. Ha ha! The day we have zero bookstores will be sad, but by that time, many won’t know the difference. That to me is sad. Browsing online is never the same as browsing in the bookstore. Just not! Hey, just one little chair. For me? Even for the tasting? They just don’t want anyone to linger. I know what they’re doing. They want you to taste and buy. If you want to sit, you must rent the room in the back. 🙂 Thanks, Mark.

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  13. We have a Total Wine in the same retail strip as Barnes & Noble. They have a tasting room and happy hour several times a week. I think it would be nice if the two stores collaborated on an event. Maybe a book signing for self-published authors. Hmmm….I see a marketing opportunity in my future.

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    1. Ha ha. Honie! Of course, they are together somewhere. Now, there’s a good match up. This is perfect for your event. Yes! You should do a collaborative. You could have wine glasses engraved with your book title. They’ll want a book to go with that! I think you should definitely pursue this.

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  14. Ha, I like the hand written “Bold” description label on one of the shelves, gives it that down south flair. Nice job describing the end of that Barnes and Noble experience morphed into the wine world. I’ll tell you, Barnes and Noble for me is a safety net that serves more than one purpose. It is my go to place after an argument with a significant other, my therapeutic hide out spot that lets me in, and I can stay until at least ten o’clock at night. Now, pair that with coffee and pastries in one area and soft chairs and couches with a wine bar. That would put a few therapists out of business !

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    1. I noticed the “Bold”! I wonder if it’s their bestseller. A place like B&N is a place to hang out, to go to, when you need to think or air things out, or tune out. Exactly. You can busy yourself with browsing high-minded books. You could do that at the library, but it’s not quite the same, plus libraries aren’t open as much, and not at night. Books, couches and a wine bar. How come this hasn’t happened, Sally? It’s long overdue. Thanks for stopping by. Good to see you. 🙂

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  15. Amy, while I’m sad that B&N closed down, a wine store has got to be the next best thing! Total Wine & More needs to implement some of your ideas. Couch, tasting booth, dimly lit lighting . . .
    Your slogan may just be the thing they need: “There are no books here. Just get drunk!” Can you imagine? Books, wine, a cozy chair to sink into. . . a tired mother’s paradise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Like I said, I do like this store. What’s not to like? It’s just that I still want the bookstore, and really don’t get out to visit the other one much. What a slogan! I’m such a marketer. 🙂 That was a good laugh, Anka. A mother’s paradise. Yes! What else do even need?

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      1. Books. Maybe there could be some kind of an addendum: “B. Y. O. B–Bring Your Own Books.” Then, we’d be all set, Amy. Then, it would be a wonderful meeting place for us all.

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  16. Book stores have been steadily closing in New York for at least twenty years, Amy. My neighborhood favorites: Endicott Booksellers on Columbus Avenue, Shakespeare and Company on Broadway and Coliseum Books near Columbus Circle are nothing but memories now. And it’s true what Mark said about Barnes and Noble swallowing up the independent stores — when a B&N superstore opened near Endicott and Shakespeare and Company, they couldn’t compete. Borders and B&N were both very near Coliseum, so they shuttered. But there’s one independent bookseller that’s a New York institution that’s been around since 1927: the Strand. Whenever book loving friends of mine visit, I always urge them to go there. It’s a book lovers paradise:

    http://www.strandbooks.com/

    If the Strand ever closes, then culturally, we’re even deeper in decline.

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    1. Those evil Borders and B&Ns. And Amazon, too. Why can’t just everyone get along? I’m sad that all these stores closed. You think there would enough support for them in a place as big as NYC, but I guess not. Money seems to be the bottom line for most of us.

      The Strand looks incredible. You could spend weeks in there I bet. Wow, if I make it over there, I will definitely go there, V! Thanks for the link! It better not close.

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  17. I haven’t noticed book stores closing around my area, thank goodness. They seem to branch out a bit with more games, cards and novelty items for sale than I think they used to. I love book stores, there’s something comforting about them isn’t there. Although of course wine is comforting too…

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    1. That’s good news for you, Vanessa. I’m glad to hear that you still have a bookstore nearby. I agree they have branched out with more items that aren’t books. My kids gravitate to those areas it seems. What about a nice little book instead. Sometimes, I wish they didn’t do this, but it’s good for Christmas shopping I suppose. Bookstores are comforting. I think so, too. A good glass of wine. Well, you can’t complain about that either.

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  18. We had a huge bookstore in the town nearby, it was locally owned and we went there religiously. It was friendly, cozy and had places for the kids to play etc. Then a Borders moved in just around the corner and the local bookstore business promptly went down the tubes and they ended up closing. It was so sad! The worst part? Even the Borders bookstore didn’t last long, they moved out and now BOTH places are vacant.

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    1. Dreadful, Darla. I typically don’t like the mega stores, and especially if they move in on someone’s business, and they always do, of course. Look where it got them. Borders went kaput! All of them closed. The sad thing is once a bookstore leaves, usually it is not replaced. They just disappear. At this point, I hope we can hang on to the big stores because that would be better than nothing.

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