Photo by dremmettbrown.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:
Georgetown’s Barnes and Noble will close for good after New Year’s Eve. So stop by for your last chance to linger in the aisles. When GM visited last weekend, there were still plenty of books on the shelves:
This closing will be a huge hit to the neighborhood. While we’ll continue to have the superb Bridge Street Books and the interesting Lantern Books (and the mysterious used book store on 33rd St. that GM has never visited) the Barnes and Noble was the department store to Bridge Street Books boutique. You need both around. Continue reading
This info has bounced around a little in the comments section, but GM realized it’s probably worth its own post: GM has is on good authority that Nike is taking over the Barnes and Noble building once the book store moves out at the end of the year.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. GM’s not happy about it either. Do we really need a gigantic store for sneakers? Well, it seems that a lot of athletic goods providers are betting on Georgetown being a new sports gear hub. Just a few years ago, the only place to pick up new running shoes was Georgetown Running Co. and maybe Sports Zone.
Over the last few years, Georgetown’s added a Lululemon, a CitySports, and is about to add an Athleta. Add Nike to that (plus the four bike stores) and you can get pretty much any athletic gear you need.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. GM would rather have the Barnes and Noble too…
Last week, GM broke the news that Barnes and Noble had given up its lease and was closing down. Many people are not happy about it.
Why the closing of a large chain store struck a particular chord with Georgetowners (and others) is that it was a perfect “Third Place”. This term, coined by Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, described those places in a community where people come together outside their home (first place) or work (second place). They can be bookstores, cafes, pubs, libraries, whatever. To Oldenburg, and those that follow him, these places are most essential parts of that community.
What made Barnes and Noble a particularly great Third Place was that it offered Georgetowners and visitors alike a place to escape from the heat or the cold (or just the crowds), but you didn’t have to pay anything to use it.
Many of the classic Third Places continue to exist in Georgetown–the Marvelous Market seating area jumps to mind–but as restaurants like Nathans get swapped for tourist traps like Serendipity, the price has gone up while the “community” quality has fallen.
Oddly enough, if there’s one store that GM’s seen that can fill the “just want to browse out of the elements without buying something” void it’s the Apple Store. Every time GM goes in there, he sees people wander in there just to play with the toys for a while before wandering out (which 9 times out of ten is exactly what GM’s doing). It’s not quite the same thing a browsing great literature (or a great magazine rack), but it’s the least technology can do for us after killing our bookstore.
Of course there’s no greater (or cheaper) Third Place in Georgetown than our great library. Long may it reign.
Photo by NCinDC.
GM was told that this was going to happen eventually, but he didn’t realize it would happen so fast: Barnes and Noble has lost its lease. GM has only heard a brief rumor about it, so he has almost no details. The only piece he heard is that the new tenant, whoever they are, are paying $65 per square foot.
GM’s no real estate expert, but that sounds awfully high, particularly for such a spacious building.
Either way, GM’s going to be seriously depressed when this finally closes. Yes this is a dying business model, but he wishes that at least in cities like DC they could hold on longer. The Barnes and Noble was a great “third space” and a wonderful resource for tourists and residents alike. Yes, you can get all you want at Amazon instead, but you have to wait days for it. And the Internet has yet to recreate the experience of browsing an aisle.