Tag Archives: bookstore

Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows to close


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It’s the end of a chapter for Barnes & Noble.

The Queens Courier has learned that the bookstore on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows will be closing at the end of this year.

The store has been in the area since 2004 and residents and local leaders considered the place to be a community center complete with a coffee shop and children’s reading groups. The lease for the store ends on January 31, 2015, and a lease agreement between the owner and the store was scrapped.

“We had discussions with the property owner to try to structure a lease extension, but were not able to come to an agreement,” said David Deason, the vice president of development for Barnes & Noble. “We enjoyed serving our St. John’s/Fresh Meadows-area customers for the last 10 years and look forward to continuing to serve them at the nearby Bayside location.”

The store first opened in June 2004. Residents in the community lamented the news of the location’s upcoming closing.

“I love that store,” said Joan Piconni, a Fresh Meadows resident. “I was so happy when it opened, I was doing a dance.”

She continued, “When I first heard that it was going to close, I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to go through withdrawals without my Barnes & Noble.’ We need a bookstore in this area. We have many schools in this area and the students all go there for research and homework.”

Mike Sidell, a member of Community Board 8, said that it was particularly troublesome that the store was closing, because it wasn’t due to a lack of business but because the property owner and the store couldn’t agree on a lease extension.

He noted that politicians and activists in the Bronx “saved the day” when the Barnes & Noble there, which served as the only full-service bookstore in the borough, was on the brink of closing. The community, he said, pulled together and saved the store from being closed. And he suggested that people in Queens should do the same.

“I feel [the Fresh Meadows Barnes & Noble] was good for the community because people from the surrounding Queens areas use it too,” Sidell said.

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Astoria bookworms to open shop


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lexi Beach

Two Astoria entrepreneurs are starting a new chapter.

Lexi Beach and Connie Rourke plan to open a new bookstore in Astoria sometime next year — the neighborhood’s only independent book shop.

“The evidence I’ve seen from other areas in the city is that New Yorkers of all stripes buy books,” said Beach. “A neighborhood like Astoria with a strong ‘shop local’ initiative and a lot of successful small businesses is especially ripe for an independent bookstore.”

The plot for a bookstore came to Beach after hearing buzz from Astoria residents, lamenting the closure of the neighborhood’s only independent bookstore, Seaburn. Postings on Twitter and whyleaveastoria.com prompted even more positive feedback about the area’s desire for a local book nook.

“I started looking into the realities of opening a bookstore and the benefits of Astoria as the location,” said Beach. “As I learned more and more, the daydream shifted to a semblance of a plan. It’s just grown and developed from there.”

The first-time store openers say they know the key to retail success is having a slow and steady approach to getting the business off the ground, listening to the community and responding to its needs. Beach said they plan to offer optimal customer service and personalized book recommendations to create a unique shopping experience.

“We also believe that a contemporary independent bookstore needs to be more than simply a place to buy books,” said Beach. “We plan to have a robust schedule of events, such as author readings, story hours, book club meetings and writers groups where local residents can come together and share their love of books.”

The pair has also been working with Mackenzi Farquer, a social media expert and owner of Astoria lifestyle shop SITE who has provided insight into the local business community.

Dan Miner of the Long Island City Partnership said the plan for a bookstore speaks volumes about the growth of Astoria. “It indicates that it is a significant enough community that people feel they can get their cultural amenities within the neighborhood,” said Miner.

While Beach and Rourke are still working with real estate brokers to find the perfect location for the Astoria book shop, Beach says the outfit will carry titles for both adults and children, focusing on paperback fiction, cookbooks, children’s items and books and authors that have a connection to Queens.

“Astoria is a vibrant and diverse community, with a lot of great food, culture, and community pride, but it’s lacking a bookstore,” said Beach. “And not just Astorians but residents in all of western Queens are missing out on what a bookstore can offer.”