Bookstore to close — but not why you think

Mall owner needs parking space

All over the country, brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing because the industry is increasingly getting its sales online. But this July, a very successful Barnes & Noble store will close in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center for a different reason: the mall owner, Donahue Schriber, a real estate development firm, wants the space for a parking structure.

Deborah Gatto, acting manager of the store, says she had heard the rumor that the store's space will be used for parking. But she said I had to get it from corporate headquarters in New York.

David Deason, vice president for development of Barnes & Noble, said in a statement, "The store is closing this July. The property owner has elected to pursue redevelopment of the area of the shopping center where we are located. We have operated for 20-plus years at this location and unfortunately no longer have lease terms or the ability to extend without the property owner's agreement. We worked diligently to extend the lease and keep the store open, but the owner of the center made the decision not to extend our lease."

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In this era of malls that look half-empty, strip centers that are chronically pockmarked with vacant storefronts, and demolition of retail space that just has no hope of replacement tenants, this is beyond bizarre. These pockets of ultra-affluence just don't have the same rules as the rest of the US. I'm not sure about just where this center is, but I do know, from personal experience, that there are a couple such centers in that Del Mar East area that do actually have a major parking problem. Try to go into one of them for lunch, and you might circle the lot for five or ten minutes searching for a parking spot, and then it is a small hike to your destination.

Isn't it nice to know that a center manager can simply kick out a tenant to add parking space? Will B & N find another location in the area? It is a crying shame that a successful bookstore, in this era of few buying books, cannot just continue to operate. If B & N just walked away from Del Mar and San Diego County as a whole, I could not fault them.

Visduh: Yes, when malls are fading and fearful of the Internet taking even more business, this move seems bizarre. Best, Don Bauder

I find the name snobbery that shopping centers use hilarious. That shopping center is at least a mile East of the city limits of Del Mar.

ImJustABill: Well, it could call itself the Rancho Santa Fe Super-Upscale Shopping Center, and be an even bigger liar. Best, Don Bauder

Good point, Don. You would be amazed just how Rancho Santa Fe sprawls across No County. I'm sure that in some corner of Fallbrook, there is some business that has Rancho Santa Fe in its name.

Visduh: And that's despite the fact that Rancho Santa Fe has traditionally been home to both nuts and thieves. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah I think if you look at strip mall names pretty much any part of San Diego North of SR-52 and West of I-15 is either La Jolla, Del Mar, or RSF.

ImJustABill: Strip malls, too? Hmm. Best, Don Bauder

I lived in “Del Mar” for over seven years in the 2000’s. However I voted in San Diego elections. This is because a huge area of what is called Del Mar is actually in the San Diego city limits but is within the Del Mar Postal (Post Office) ZIP Code. So even though I lived a mile from Olde Del Mar, I lived in what was called Del Mar. The same thing occurs in La Jolla. Where the UTC area is in the La Jolla ZIP Code of 92037 and they say they are in La Jolla.

However, the Del Mar Highlands Town Center and Doug Manchester’s Grand Del Mar take the liberty of the Del Mar designation to a nauseating extreme because neither of these name hijacking enterprises is even in the 92014 ZIP Code. They are in the 92130 ZIP Code which is Carmel Valley. It doesn’t surprise me that the fake of fakes, Manchester, would stoop to this bending of the truth. He does in everything else he has a hand in.

Ponzi: So your neighbors got to have a Del Mar postal address while living in San Diego. Pretty slick. Best, Don Bauder

The weird thing is they JUST finished a massive renovation of that whole shopping center, including a lot of changes to the parking lots. If they were going to put in a parking structure I don't know why they didn't do it then. Why keep building and rebuilding continuously, which inconveniences everybody instead of making all the changes at once? It seems to be a successful shopping center so I guess they know what they are doing, but still...

ImJustABill: It may be a successful shopping center, but all centers have to be very wary in this day of Internet shopping and rapid delivery of the product. Best, Don Bauder

ImJustABill: A hotel named the Grand Carmel doesn't sound so upscale. Best, Don Bauder

Actually, this is kind of sad. It’s a shame to see another bookstore close. I recall my days browsing this bookstore when I lived in Del Mar. The young, affluent-married, stay-at-home-moms bringing their kids to this bookstore to see real books. Maybe they were bridging their children’s iPad world with the world they had left behind, paper books.

The idyllic world of young fresh white faces, fresh from a lunch at Sammy’s Wood fired Pizza or making pottery at the retail pottery store. The bookstore has to go so this eatery mall can build a parking structure for the Tesla’s, BMW’s, Land Rovers and Mercedes’s that rule over this domain.

I lived in the rat race and moved away. Long live the rat race. They so deserve the false world they have created. Thankfully the Carmel Valley library is just a block away.

Ponzi: It is always a shame to see a bookstore close. Similarly, there was a wonderful store with an enormous inventory of classical CDs and DVDs in Santa Fe, New Mexico, called the Candyman. But the inventory diminished and diminished as online retailers, such as arkivmusic, flourished. We finally stopped going when we go to Santa Fe. Now the store specializes in musical instruments and parts. Best, Don Bauder

while there is plenty of that element here, there are also people like me, driving my 12 year old car, working full time, just making ends meet... its a great place to raise my kids, so we make it work. and i will be very sad to see this B&N go. i visit it often, and love perusing the sale tables for my next bookstand pile of reads. amazon just cant replace the EXPERIENCE of a bookstore. but since this is the only bookstore in the area, and its soon to be gone, i guess amazon will have to do.

Speaking of books, Don I was wondering if you're planning to read Michael Lewis's new book "Flash Boys" about how rigged the high-frequency trading is. Seems it might be right up your alley.

ImJustABill: Yes, I intend to read "Flash Boys." I agree that the high-frequency traders get information before the public does. This is similar to front-running and is illegal, and enforcement officials should stop it.

However, the Federal Reserve is more responsible for rigging the stock market than the high-frequency traders. Just look at Janet Yellen's speech this week. She pretended, as all Fed officials do, that near-zero interest rates are meant to boost employment. They are meant to boost the stock market. Yellen knows that. So did Bernanke. You have to understand the argot they speak. Because I had dumped 600 shares of one stock a week before, I had some cash in my account. As soon as she spoke, I gobbled up more stocks. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah - I'm thinking more and more their is so much interference in the market that the normal correlations between the stock market and the economy don't quite work like they're supposed to. I think industry has to some extent adapted to the higher unemployment rate which seems more and more like a permanent shift in the economy.

The QE measures - if they were ever justified at all - should have been temporary emergency measures but they have been in place so long now that they might as well have been permanent.

ImJustABill: Since 2009, the stock market has been inversely tied to the economy. Because the employment picture is so sick, the Fed has an excuse to keep interest rates at all-time lows. Wall Street loves it. Wall Street is feasting off Main Street's pain. How many times have I written that? Best, Don Bauder

Yes, and I would even say a lot of companies benefit from the high unemployment in that it helps keep their labor costs low. They can pay workers lower wages and ask them to work longer hours because workers have fewer alternatives.

ImJustABill: Yes, the paying of lower wages, the declining hiring, and the ability to borrow at an extremely low rate, and use the money to pump up earnings per share artificially, such as buying one's stock, are inflating the stock market. Best, Don Bauder

The logic is "X isn't helping unemployment so we must need more of X" instead of "X isn't working so maybe X isn't such a good thing" (X being QE).

ImJustABill: Yes, QE is not helping employment or wages. But that's what the Fed tells the public is the purpose of QE. The actual purpose is to pump up the stock market. Also, the world's central banks, including the Fed, fear deflation. Best, Don Bauder

Isn't this the last bookstore in San Diego?

SaveBP: Oh no, there are still lots of others, including other Barnes & Noble stores. Best, Don Bauder

Not sure, but I think that was a rhetorical question.

danfogel: I wouldn't be surprised. Best, Don Bauder

I'm "very" suspicious of the second sentence. How does one define a successful bookstore even more so a "very" successful bookstore?

Because it has stayed in business for 20 years? Because it can somehow pay its huge overhead with the few buyers that trickle in each day?

I'm sure the mall knows its business better than armchair quarterbacks. If they have deadwood and need to do so some trimming, who are we to question them? It is a free market.

I find it funny that many of the people that shop at Amazon and Costco (and forced the demise of neighborhood stores) now bemoan the outcomes.

this store always has people in it. that said, i would think the property owner has one bottom line for each vendor: can they pay the rent or not? if the store can, which i believe must be the case here since B&N wants to renew the lease, why then does it matter to the owner how many people shop there daily?

The reason the shopping center does not renew the lease (regardless if Barnes and Noble can pay today) is because they have better use for that land. I'm sure the shopping center does not want to loose the rent they get from Barnes and Noble, but after an analysis it's probably their best solution.

That center needs parking spots BADLY, so what are you going to do? Let all the retailers suffer (and potentially fail) or just one?

It's sad, but Barnes and Noble will probably end up like Blockbuster. Again, what are you going to do? I'm sure knowing that helped the shopping center make their decision of who not to renew.

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