Barnes & Noble Booksellers closing

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By Cortni Moore and Shanacee Shreve
Entirely East Lansing staff writers

EAST LANSING — Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ East Grand River Avenue location is closing. Dec. 31.

Unsuspecting customers like Alli Cochran were shocked to hear the news. “I had no idea the store was closing. This is very unfortunate,” said Cochran, a sophomore at Michigan State University.

“I was told by management that the store was closing due to their 10-year lease being up,” said Wills.

“I think it is more than that though, because when I asked my supervisor more questions he was a bit secretive. But I’ve heard that a lot of Barnes & Nobles are closing,” said Wills.

Bill Frarey, 48, said the speculation he’s heard most often of the store closing deals with the renewal of the leasing agreement.

“I come here between classes every day just to browse around and spend my free time,” said Cochran.

“I use it as my library . . . the MSU library is dedicated more so to research . . . this is more fiction,” said Patrick Karickhoff, MSU freshman.

Mariah Redmon, MSU English junior, goes about once monthly to the bookstore and likes the convenience of its location and how she thinks it will “take away” from the Grand River section once it closes.“I feel like when you have a bookstore so close to campus it’s convenient. It’s easily accessible and I like to actually be in Barnes & Noble, opposed to looking on online,” said Redmon.

Redmon works next-door at Douglas J. Aveda Institute. She said she uses the Barnes & Noble as a landmark when giving customers directions. “Everyone knows where it is . . . it’s going to be a big loss of a landmark.”

Aside from students, East Lansing residents and those from neighboring towns also benefit from the bookstore.

Elizabeth Davis often takes her grandchildren to this location to spend time with them and enjoy literature together.

“This is a place were I can take my grandchildren. It gives me an outlet to find out what they enjoy and find out more about them; and we become closer as a result,” said Davis.

Frarey is a Dewitt resident who has been coming to this Barnes & Noble since it first settled in the area.

Two, sometimes three times weekly, Frarey stops in to get his magazines. He said, “It never seems to be really dead,” considering possibilities for closure, “I think bookstores are going where more people are going, online.”

The business has been competing with Amazon.com and e-readers, offering lower prices to compete with the online booksellers, according to Wills. Barnes & Nobles even created eBooks to compete with the demand for portable low-priced books.Many employees are being relocated to other stores as a result, according to Wills.

“I decided to continue to work here because it is guaranteed to be busy at the end of the year, which will give me more hours. Plus once they close I am guaranteed a raise at a new store because of my seniority,” said Wills.

When it closes, Frarey said, “I’m a big fan of Barnes & Noble,” so he’ll travel to the next closest, in Lansing Mall, about nine miles, or 20 minutes, from the Grand River location. The closing of the bookstore leaves Grand River Avenue with a big space to fill. The question is what is going to replace it?

“I’d like to see a hangout spot, something affordable for students where we can come and read and lounge,” said Cochran.

“I think it would be nice to see several businesses in place of the store since it is so big,” said Wills.

Relying on the proximity to MSU’s campus and the area’s high retail occupancy of 94 percent, the city of East Lansing news release said, “City officials are optimistic that the bookstore’s space will not remain vacant long due to its prime location in the downtown.”

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