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  • Writer's picturePamela Tucker


Anecdotal evidence concluded retail vacancies grew considerably during and after the pandemic in my local shopping area, the Upper East Side in New York City. The reasons could have been driven by the pandemic as well as less foot traffic due to people buying more on line. Stores including L'OCCITANE, Aldo, Williams Sonoma and Banana Republic, to name a few closed. One of the more notable closings in 2020 was a multi level, 50,000+ square foot Barnes & Noble that had been open in the spot since 2009.

Again, based on anecdotal evidence, since Spring 2022, the Upper East side has seen a spurt of store openings. Panera returned to the area, but in a much smaller space. Target took over the Barnes & Noble location and the area has seen the first neighborhood Framebridge, which moved into a unit of the bankrupt Francesca's. For the most part the new entrants are food related -- restaurants, dumplings, chocolate and fine bakeries. I'm eager to see the upcoming opening of Dave's Hot Chicken few blocks away.

A few weeks ago Barnes & Noble, the country's largest bookstore chain returned to the Upper East Side, (87th Street and 3rd Avenue) a few blocks from where it operated for more than a decade. The company was purchased by Elliott Management in 2019. The CEO of Barnes & Noble since the acquisition has been executing a growth strategy that sounds reasonable. In articles I've read the strategy is for individual stores to curate the offerings as appropriate for the immediate customer base. With 600 units throughout the United States, about 30 stores are planned to open this year.

Today I visited this new Barnes & Noble store. I'm unable to critique if the store is curated for the locals; however, I liked what I saw. It is a bright store, the interior and furnishings are soothing shades and it has an interesting layout. The spaces between shelves and tables are not wide and yet not too narrow. It is much smaller than the former location. I read it was 8,000 square feet. (Lacking a tape measure I cannot confirm the size!)

My two favorite things about this Barnes & Noble include: (1) It does not have a cafe. This means books are the focus! (2) I did not hear anyone on a cell phone. For me that was a delight. I love being lost in my own thoughts when shopping (for anything) and not having to listen to phone conversations. Not too sure it will be cell-free when I visit again, but definitely there will be other things to like about shopping in a bookstore.


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