Barnes and Noble Closing

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.



Filed under Rumors

52 responses to “Barnes and Noble Closing

  1. Jacques

    This is a shame (though an expected event). My guess–or pipe dream–for the next tenant: Eataly, if they can get the necessary permits (including a rooftop beer gardens).

  2. Who is going to have that kind of cash and need that much space, any idea? Most of the trashy-expensive Jersey Shore-type retailers we have seen in recent years can’t possibly need that much space. Could it be the pared-down Nordstrom or Bloomingdales that was discussed at one point for Georgetown Park?

  3. The greed of the landlord drives out another tenant.

  4. Kelly

    Thanks for this information. I also hate to lose a “third place” of mine… and yes, $65 psf does sound high for such a big space…

  5. Carol Joynt

    Now, can we bring back Francis Scott Key books, please?

  6. Very sad, indeed. B&N (and Borders before its demise) had a definite advantage over Amazon: magazine selection. B&N stocks a wide variety of magazines from all over the world, as well as many mags and ‘zines with smaller distribution and mom & pop publishing setups. I can only imagine what the impact will be for these smaller ‘zines, but it doesn’t look good.

    I know that the brick-and-mortar bookstore will carry on in DC, primarily in the form of customer-service-driven indies like Politics & Prose, specialty retailers like Reiters, or those with “location, location, location,” like Kramerbooks. But for those of us who like to pick up the occasional magazine from the UK, France or Germany, we’re down to the remaining B&N downtown and the Books-A-Million at Dupont Circle.

    Very sad….

  7. Susan Hazard

    I don’t want a nook! I will miss it terribly as part of my favorite georgetown routines of new books, coffee, and gift cards. Very frustrating…

  8. Carol Joynt

    The Georgetown Park Mall should give them free rent … just because.

  9. zora emilia

    i really reall hope it is a bloomingdales or a nordstrom or something like that! it would be awesome!

  10. Coming Soon...

    B&N is slowly but surely getting out of the superstore biz nationally. They are closing stores all over the US. At the M Street store, the lease actually expired several months ago (I believe back in Feb.). Right now they are hanging on until the G’town Park project starts. Vornado owns the B&N site as well as Georgetown Park. My understanding is that one of the name tenants at the mall will move to the B&N space (probably H&M). At the same time a number of big deals are in the works for the mall — I believe that the Bloomingdales deal is still on as well as a very large Forever 21 (almost 70,000 sf) and a more modest (for them) Target (80,000 sf). As for B&N it is a sad shadow of its former self — frankly the days of 30,000+ sf bookstores are gone. Look at how much shelf space is devoted to non-book items like toys and gifts. This is really a back to the future moment where small (well run) independents like Politics and Prose, Kramers, Bridge Street, etc. will once again dominate the bricks and mortar book retail market. B&N will probably be unrecognizable in five years — if it even still exists.

  11. Kate

    Devastating – and very sad. Has been a great place for Georgetown. Hope prior comment re. perhaps bringing back a few of the smaller stores turns out to be true, but am not holding my breath. I don’t need or want an H&M…I want neighbourhood bookstores and gathering places. Losing Booked Up and Olsson’s was just the beginning of the end.

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  13. Carol Joynt

    A larger H&M is the last thing anyone needs. (Just one person’s opinion.)

  14. GeorgeM

    Maybe the Cerberus Theater will reopen there (as if…)

    My all-time favorite Georgetown bookstore (and I had a lot of favorites over the years) was the Rizzoli bookstore in the mid-1980’s in the Foundry Building (if I recall correctly). Wood-paneled walls, expensive carpeting, chandeliers and an incredible selection of coffee table books on art and architecture, as well as a great travel and current affairs selection. It was so classy and elegant. I think it lasted about two years.

  15. Georgetown and Dupont Circle had so many nice bookstores in the past. The two key points (for me) that were made are: “Where do you go for news, magazines, books, etc, or just to browse an aisle?” I loved Borders in all of it’s incarnations, and I wasn’t thrilled when they went “mega,” but was still glad it existed. I also mourn the loss of all of the unique record stores.

    What amazes me is that in London or Paris, you can have a shop that has sold nothing but umbrellas or only deals in taxidermy, and has done so since…oh say 1774. And THEY ARE STILL THERE! Why can’t we build history with our businesses? And don’t cite “economy.” It’s the obvious.

  16. Carol Joynt

    To Washington Cube – I think you’d find those businesses that have been around forever, in London or wherever, do not get gouged by the landlord.

  17. I agree, Carol. My latest heartbreak was Furin’s. Not only did I love the business, I loved the people.

  18. RD

    Very sad, but can’t say I am surprised. Hopefully bookstores like P&P and Kramerbooks will continue to prosper.

    Interesting opportunity for changes in Georgetown though. As somebody above suggested, it is one of the few available spaces in DC where Eataly could set up shop (can anyone think of others??). I would hate to see it just become a large H&M (though the current H&M in Georgetown is a lot worse than the downtown one for whatever reason). Would love to see it tied in with a comprehensive overhaul of the Mall though, hopefully with a smaller B&N there….

    “At the same time a number of big deals are in the works for the mall — I believe that the Bloomingdales deal is still on as well as a very large Forever 21 (almost 70,000 sf) and a more modest (for them) Target (80,000 sf).”

    Here is a question for everybody: How easily could the mall be physically re-developed such that there are only a few, large distinct stores in the building along with storefront on M street as opposed to the current mall set-up with the open air balconies and dozens of small stores?

    I think converting it into several large stores would be best, perhaps along with some dining options in the back along the canal. The ones you mentioned, a Bloomingdales, Forever 21, Target, and smaller B&N, would all greatly increase the foot traffic around there.

  19. Erika

    I used to work at this B&N. Very sad.

  20. Tibbett

    Barnes & Noble Georgetown is/was a wonderful gathering place for the community. I worked there for 7 years. Cannot describe the characters, friendships, celebrities, and craziness that made it such a unique haven. Yes Georgetown is famous for colorful bars and cupcake eateries. Nothing can compare to B&N, as near to 24/7 bookstore carnival as we’re likely to see.
    The store ran three full shifts of booksellers, from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., every day of the week, nearly every day of the year. That’s a lot of people. Corporate spared no expense in the lighting and fixtures. It was a visual tribute to reading. This was part of what made working there so fun – especially in the winter. Snow skittering down outside the upstairs cafe windows, the smell of brownies in the oven, great tunes from the music department, and books, books everywhere. Just heaven.
    How many GW and Gtwn students raced from class to punch their time card at that store? How many national celebrities came to browse their own titles and sneak peaks at how competitors were doing? For that matter, how many homeless men and women found a clean, quiet place to sit for a few hours before hitting the streets again?
    A big loss for everybody.

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  22. cc

    I hope it’s an American Girl Place!

  23. cc

    Washington Cube, Seattle has many stores like that. The one that stands out in my mind is the rubber stamp store. How can there be a whole store just for rubber stamps?! It was so lovely to see the diversity of stores there. If only it weren’t freezing and sunless, and had jazz and go-go, I’d move there in a heartbeat.

  24. Ben

    No, a Bloomingdales, “American Girl Place” or other similar retailer would not be “awesome”. This is terrible news no matter hwo one looks at it. I can’t fathom of any retailer–Bloomingdales, Saks, H&M, whatever–filling the hole that the B&N will be leaving behind. It was one of the precious few commercial spaces where one could literally “kill time” without racking up enormous bar tabs or restaurant bills. I spent many an hour in this store, browsing, sipping coffee and–yes–buying. What a shame that the landlord is so willing to throw them out simply to bring in a higher-paying tenant.

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  27. andrew

    The last time I went here was after the Border’s on L Street closed. I appreciate the need for teen-age hangouts, however this was also a bookstore who probably counted on book sales as a significant part of revenue. The last time I went to buy a book there were were dating teens sitting in front of the shelves, pretty much everywhere. I’m not American so actually do browse, purchase and read books shockingly. It is embarrassing, but any kind of book store is the wrong kind of business for this neighborhood.

  28. Cynthia Anthony

    Dear Andrew,

    Goodness, many of the bookworms (like me!) I know are going to be terribly surprised to learn this is not an “American” thing to do! In my circle of friends, books are the major gifts we give each other for birthdays and Christmas. How can a neighborhood with a major university in the middle of it (and lots of professors, writers, journalists, etc.) living all around it, not be a good neighborhood for a bookstore? Books are coming out of the eaves of lots of houses around here. (I know, believe me, I know.) It isn’t the volume of business the bookstores turn over…. it is, as others have pointed out, rapacious rents charged by landlords whose only interest is money, not quality.

  29. RNM

    There is a certain rich irony of people bemoaning the loss of a bookstore online.

    Seriously, what killed the bookstores? The internet. Too easy to buy books online from Amazon or download it directly from iTunes. Why would I ever need a bookstore again? As for magazines…they still print those? Magazines are another dying industry, they were great in their day…but that day is approaching sunset…and all of you are examples of why. We sit here at our computers, tablets, phones and read and respond…why would we want to fill our homes with paper that is by its nature dated when it arrives when it could all come via a tablet in far more interesting format?

    Go back 20 years when only a very few people had cell phones…and where the thought was often “who needs to be that in touch”. Now look at today, where everyone has a cell phone (many who don’t have landlines any more) and many if not most some variation of a smart phone who can’t imagine life without it. Technology shifts. Books and magazines are dying as mediums. The content can and will survive in some form, people still want information, they still want stories, they still want escape and entertainment. However, how they get the content is evolving.

  30. Cynthia Anthony

    I communicate online AND I fill my home with books and other paper.

  31. I don’t think you people quite get what is going on. Publisher’s naturally allowed the book selling business to gravitate to mass retailers who brought tremendous economies of scale to the business. Now new technology in the form of digital display and electronic distribution trump even those economies. The entire industry around the publication of books has begun to lose these economies of scale which will drive up costs further reducing demand, which will drive up costs even more. The next big event will be the abandonment of the college text book, followed quickly by text for K-12 grades. They will all move to Kindle and IPad devices. This will crush the book publishing industry. Shumpeter called capitalism “creative destruction”. I suggest you download the book – good luck trying to find a publisher that could afford to print it today. These are very sad times for book lovers.

  32. Liz

    no no no no no no, I even used to work here for a time in College. How can they leave? How can *whomever it is* kick them out? There is nothing to do in G town but Shop and eat now.

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  34. RNM

    So on a site that seems to constantly deride the chains marching into Georgetown, there is now support for a chain that helped drive out of business local bookstores. Irony is so ironic at times.

    It is a store, one that sells a dying medium in an evolving age. A chain that is slowly going out of business. One that could not even break even with the sale of its e-reader to pop its numbers for one quarter.

    Someone commented on the publishing industry…interestingly publishing is now easier than ever. Vanity publishing is on the rise, writing a book and making it available for download is easy. Sure, the money may not be there…and one could make a very good case for the overall decline in quality due to the loss of editors and gatekeepers…but at some level that is fighting against the tides…the tides always win.

    Books aren’t going away, but just as they are not the hand printed texts of the pre Gutenberg era, they will start fading from the printed and bound format. I still own my old CDs and a CD player…but have not listened to one in at least a year…all my music is available in a small digital device. Soon all my books will be available in one too. Just think how much room that will free up and how much easier it will be to move. Progress. 🙂

  35. Maayan

    I’ve gone to this barnes and noble ever since i was born. I kind of want to cry

  36. RD

    “I’ve gone to this barnes and noble ever since i was born. I kind of want to cry”

    Do you know what year it originally opened?

  37. Retail Ninja

    FYI, the Landlord didn’t ‘kick B&N out…it had nothing to do with rent. Their lease expired. B&N didnt want to stay in Georgetown as they are downsizing their retail presence around the country. Their decision to leave had more to do with the level of business they were doing.

    As for Eataly, they are looking for space in the 50,000 sf range and need to be on one level for merchandising purposes. Other than Georgetown Park, they dont have options (B&N and Jewel Center dont work for their requirements). Look for them to be Downtown somewhere (old convention center site, old Post Office building on Penn Ave, etc.).

  38. Kai

    This news leaves me completely heartbroken…

    It also saddens me that some people don’t understand that embracing new technologies is not the issue here…

    What most of us will mourn is the experience of browsing through the aisles, picking volumes from shelves, discovering random books while enjoying a coffee, … Sure, you could do the same at other locations but Borders is dead and B&N is dying… There won’t be enough small local bookstores to shelter all the book lovers who still hold human interactions dear to their heart.

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  40. ugg

    You can definitely see your skills in the paintings you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  41. That bookstore had many books especially business and finance books with no price on them. These were higher priced books. Who is going to buy a book in the Internet age without a price marked on it? Didn’t they notice no one bought books they didn’t put prices on? LOL how stupid to not manage a bookstore when the competition from Amazon is so strong. Still I enjoyed going there.

    Ptak’s bookstore was the best ever in Georgetown. We lost Reiter’s big store, but their small store still exists.

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  43. Alex

    Head up Connecticut Avenue to Politics and Prose. They are keeping the independent bookstore alive and well! Book sales and clubs are thriving there, and you even can print your own manuscript. It’s a wonderful experience!

  44. Mike

    Damn, could’ve kept the pinball museum in town……………

  45. Jonathan G.

    the loss of the pinball museum by the greedy Georgetown Mall schmucks was a terrible loss to the city… oh well, now Baltimore has this great little museum/arcade – as for the loss of Barnes and noble – what a pathetic loss for that part of town… oh well… I go to the downtown, Bethesda, and Tysons Corner stores anyway. – a three story building? who the hell is going to rent/lease THAT much space – good luck

  46. Erik

    I was wandering what happened ?
    Went buy there this past Sunday and it was CLOSED !
    The leaseholder/owner of the (Georgetown property) is much akin to Ebenezer Scrooge.
    He should be ashamed to have taken the bookstore away from the community. He could have renewed the lease (Greed)
    The community of Georgetown, students, tourists , everyone enjoyed that place (Barnes & Noble) and the location was perfect.

    Mr.Leaseholder you are a “Lemon Head” …
    sometimes name calling is appropriate !

  47. Very, very sad (and extremely annoying). I loved and depended on this bookstore and hate having to only get books from Amazon. Talk about corporate killings.

    Apparently a NIKE store is going to open there. Booooooooooooooo!

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