By Emily Green
The Barnes and Noble located on the corner of Grand River and Charles Street here in East Lansing is closing its doors on December 31. Barnes and Noble had just recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary at that location in September.
“I think that this will be a big loss to the city. It is an ideal set up for East Lansing and I hate to see it go,” said R. Dale Wilson, professor of marketing at MSU.
“Barnes and Noble is a place to read, browse and socialize. It is a retail anchor in East Lansing. I will miss it,” said Patricia Huddleston, professor of retailing.
While the reason for the closure is unknown, the vice president of development at Barnes and Noble David Deason did release a statement saying, “The current lease is at its end of term and we will be closing the store at the end of this year.”
The company is keeping pretty tight lipped about the reason for the closure. While Barnes and Noble employees were questioned, they declined to comment on the story. It is known, however that the company and the building owner were unable to agree on the cost of a new lease for the upcoming year, which played a role in the closing of the store.
Huddleston speculates that this Barnes and Noble was one of their less profitable stores to begin with and that parking is a big issue. “If you do not have campus parking, or are on foot, you have to pay for parking. This makes the location of the store less convenient.”
“Many citizens of East Lansing will be disappointed by the closure, and wish that the two could’ve came to an agreement on the leasing price,” said Wilson.
The reaction to the closure of the store will most likely vary from person to person depending on who you ask. Both elementary education freshman Caitlin Karram and Lyman Briggs Freshman Darren Donnelly were not aware of the closing, but were also not very upset that Barnes and Noble will be closing.
“I would rather buy books online, it is easier,” Donnelly said. This brings up the debate on whether online shopping and e-readers will end up putting traditional books stores out of business.
“We are in the transition mode from traditional to online retailers, consumer preference is hurting their business,” Wilson stated.
On the other hand, biochemistry freshman Alek Guettler and Lyman Briggs freshman Breanna Borg were shocked to hear the news.
“I am very upset and very surprised,” Borg said.
With the closing of Barnes and Noble in a prime retail space and one of the biggest buildings on Grand River, it may make people wonder how long will it be until another business will take its’ place, and what that business will be. Jacobson’s Department store was located in that building before Barnes and Noble moved into it.
“It will be hard to find one retailer to take over the space. It may have to be subdivide,” offered Wilson.
While agreeing with Wilson that a good option for the building would be to subdivide it, Huddleston suggested that, “It might be interesting to subdivide the building as an incubator for local entrepreneurs to start up a business and merchandise their stuff; this could be a creative way to use the space.”
Some of the students on campus also shared what they might like to see open up in the vacated building once Barnes and Noble is gone.
“I would love to see another book store open there. I think that location is great for books,” said Guettler.
“I want to see a nice sit down restaurant go into the building,” Karram said. Even with many different ideas on what will fill the newly vacated building once Barnes and Noble is gone, both Wilson and Huddleston agreed that it will be hard to say how long the building will stay unoccupied.
With the closing of Barnes and Noble creeping closer by the day, whether you are upset or indifferent about the closing it is becoming apparent that the citizens of East Lansing will need to find a new place where they can buy books and music while also spending a quiet afternoon wandering through the shelves, or to study silently.
“We will lose a convenient place for students and faculty of Michigan State to buy non-school books,” Huddleston said. Schuler Books and Music will now be the closet major book store to campus. It is located in the Meridian Mall.