What with Barnes & Noble CEO Len Riggio apparently determined to run the retailer into the ground, now is as good of a time as any to start brainstorming ideas for what can be done with the soon to be closed B&N stores.
B&N operates around 640 bookstores, and they’re mostly between 25,000 and 40,000 square foot in size. While that makes for a large bookstore, in absolute terms it’s really not that big.
The average Toys r Us store is bigger, and a typical American supermarket starts at about three times the size of a B&N. And of course Walmart stores start at around a hundred thousand square feet (for the old-style stores)and can be as large as 270,000 square feet (for the super-mega-uber-centers).
I even have a local library branch (Chinn Park) which, at 25,000 square feet, is about as large a small B&N store.
So what do you think will happen to old B&N stores?
Most will probably be refitted as retail space – possibly even a store which still sells books. My local Borders store, for example, was replaced by a 2nd & Charles store, the secondhand media chain owned by Books-a-Million.
But some could be converted to libraries or community centers, which is what has happened to a number of former grocery stores and Walmart stores.
In Springfield, MO, a former Dillon’s supermarket was turned into a library in 2003. The Athens-Limestone Public Library in Alabama moved last year into an old Kroger supermarket. And in Texas an ex-Walmart was turned into a library in 2012.
So even when there’s no more demand for a retail space, libraries are taking the opportunity to open branches which many of us can only dream of.
But then again, all of those spaces were a lot larger than a typical B&N store, so it was much more difficult to find a replacement tenant.
So what do you think will happen to B&N’s stores after they are gone?
image by THE Holy Hand Grenade!