Closure of Sundance Square's Barnes & Noble Almost as Sad as the Grassroots Effort to Save It

Categories: Biz

BarnesandNobleSundanceSquare.jpg
Steven Martin
Last week, Fort Worth unveiled the new, improved Sundance Square. Where once there were a couple of parking lots, now there is a pedestrian plaza complete with dancing fountains and a juggler.

It's a good thing. Now for the bad thing: Sundance Square's 17-year-old Barnes & Noble is shutting its doors, and the closure of a book store is always a cause for sadness.

But folks in Fort Worth might be taking their mourning a bit too far. Not one but two Change.org petitions have sprung up in the past couple of weeks calling for the store to stay open. Here's one posted by Amanda Valdez, an employee at the location:

It brings a diversity to the downtown Fort Worth area and is loved by many. People from around the WORLD have made sure to check out this store when they are in town because of its historical value. We have pictures of historical Fort Worth as well as our beloved cowboy statue that people come to get a picture with on the daily! Working as a bookseller and seeing our store close down has broken my heart and the feedback from customers about this situation has astonished me. The community is sad about this shut down, and I am not talking just about the Fort Worth community, I am talking about neighboring communites and tourists who make sure to always stop by. Downtown Fort Worth doesn't need anymore bars or restaurants!

A woman who signed the other petition wrote, "It's my husband and I's 'place'. We went there for our second date, we went there to celebrate our engagement, and many other trips there. It's going to break my heart if it goes away!"

Don't get me wrong. I like Barnes & Noble. It's a nice place to kill a couple of hours, and it's a good place to work as far as retail goes (I toiled in the receiving room for a couple of years during college), but this is not some quaint mom-and-pop operation struggling valiantly to stay afloat. It's a big corporation that makes big-corporation decisions.

Best to just pour one out and move on.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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58 comments
bobbyvdallas
bobbyvdallas

I had a friend that worked in this bookstore for a while. He said it was in the red for years and only stayed opened because of the discounted rent sundance square gave them. That said, most of sundance square is a corporate wasteland.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going down there every now and then, but although it's safe and very clean, it feels souless and contrived. The place is devoid of any funk or coolness.  Not to mention the slew of chain and Dallas area restaurants and corporate bars. The place really doesn't feel special anymore.  It's just feels like a tourist/entertainment district..not a downtown.  Sundance Square could be in Frisco and it wouldn't feel any different.

jamessavik
jamessavik

It's sad to see any bookstore go down- but I'm guessing Barnes&igNoble will survive. There are way too many people walking around that couldn't read a book if they wanted too. Literacy is at the foundation of a technological society. I encourage my nieces & nephews to all read by reading to them even before they can really understand and gifting them with age appropriate books as they grow up.

Maybe I'm weird but one of the first things I check out in a new city are the book stores. You never know where you'll find that magic volume... says the guy with 2500+ books.

Hulon_Pate
Hulon_Pate

Prob will rebuild or relocate closer to the Cultural Arts District where the people are.

talismanthirteen
talismanthirteen

Maybe if they weren't so ridiculously overpriced they would have stayed in business. I went in there a couple of years ago because I was in the area and thought it would be nice to pick up a couple of books. Checked against amazons pricing on my cell, everything was literally twice as expensive. I've always got a big enough book back catalog waiting to be read I'm not THAT desperate that I can't wait 2 days for my Prime account to have something delivered straight to my house for half the price. Buh-bye. 

joecook
joecook

Seems like a book store would be very appealing to travelers and visitors to Sundance Square.

Great coffee bar, books, souvenirs-it's one of the best things about the area!

amandav16
amandav16

This whole article and their comments are hilarious....Everyone is entitled to their opinion so let me give you all mine. I haven't worked for barnes and noble for not even a year, I actually have a career and took this job on as a way to save up for law school. Before working there I was in there all the time studying, buying the latest book, etc. When I started those petitions I went in not knowing what kind of response I was going to get and it ended up being a bigger one then I thought. Do I think that this will change anything? I have no idea, but I wanted Sundance Square and B&N to know (in a respectful manner) just how many supporters this store has. Regardless if we do shut down my goal was still reached. That goal was to be heard and I think it's awesome the amount of positive feedback we've gotten. It was even thought to be important enough to be picked up by WFAA Channel 8 News!! So you sir may think it's "sad" that we're trying to stand up for something that we really believe in but we do not. That goes for all your "supporters" as well, don't talk about something you clearly don't understand. Thanks.

-Amanda Valdez

if6were9
if6were9

Just another reason why I don't read. I just can't stand break-ups. 

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

If people really wanted this location to stay open, they should have gone there and bought a bunch of merchandise well before these petitions came about. The problem was, not enough people were going to this location and spending money. Other Barnes & Noble locations are having no problem generating enough revenue to stay open. But, people went to this location to look at statues/pictures, use the restroom, or browse around in on dates without buying anything. That's why it is closing.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

I was a loyal Border's customer from the day they opened the door. They had the most important thing a bookstore can have -- selection. I'd go in to buy one book and walk out with three or four because I found things browsing their shelves that I didn't know existed. Then the chain was sold and the bean-counters and marketeers took over. They began asking, Hey, why all these books when only handful are beat sellers? Couldn't we make more money with this space selling toys, gizmos, novelty items? And they swept the bookshelves  bare.

Same story only worse across the street at B&N. (Surely one of the most bonehead ideas in all of retailing: Build two bookstores on opposite corners in a neighborhood that could barely support one.) 

Meantime I began buying on Amazon, reluctantly at first, then a little more cheerfully. No matter what it is, they have it. They can put it in your hands in a day or two at a reasonable price. Or on your laptop in a minute or two if it's a book with just text, no illustrations, no maps.

I blame the upper management of Borders and B&N for all this. I got the impression none of them really cared for books, anyway. They certainly never understood book buyers.

So I'm not shedding any tears. I visit Half Price every now and then. Otherwise I do my browsing in the newspaper's Sunday book pages and in The New York Review of Books, then order from Amazon.    

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

That was always a good place to stop and use the pisser before heading to the car and the drive back home.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

E-atlases are decidedly inferior to the printed atlas.  Art books are a joy to leaf through.  But, why take up space with the entire collection of, say, Balzac's Comédie Humaine, if you can store them all on an easy to read tablet? 

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Well, I did enjoy this place.  But in reality, Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster have been dead in hospice care for years now.

I would suspect that such prime realestate already has a new tenent lined up.  Apple store? Angelika theater? Microsoft Store?  Some high end steak house?  Is there an apple store west of 360?  With that much foot traffic in a region where foot traffic is hard to comeby I would suspect a big time tenant. 

For the love of god please don't but another breastaraunt.  All the world needs is another twin peaks, hooters, or any of that other junk.  I'd rather see a strip club.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Somebody call Half-Priced Books.  They have a better business model.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Books stores are just like video store n record stores,....a outdated business model.

Most people prefer to download and not waste their time in a store.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

You just can't make please everybody.  Please explain to me the perfect location that some how perefectly caters to tourist and locals, and caters to businesses during the day and entertainment at night.  AND provides modern amenities that attracts young people and keeps it original culture.

Geez to hear some people talk you'd think they came from narnia.

observist
observist topcommenter

@talismanthirteen  If you came of age in the post-Amazon era, then of course bookstores don't make sense to you.  Those ridiculously high prices were what all new books cost before Amazon.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

@amandav16 Hey, great that WFAA is willing to give you coverage. Let's see if that actually convinces people to come in and buy, or if this was just another TV news "let's laugh at the freaks" special.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

I wonder if your that girl I hit on that totally brushed me off.....

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

@Tim.Covington I couldn't agree more with that assessment. I always find it interesting that the people complaining the most about Barnes & Noble closings, as with Borders before it, are the people who didn't buy a damn thing. When the last Borders were in the middle of their liquidation sales, and the decor in each store was "ALL SALES FINAL: NO COUPONS ACCEPTED," half of the people inside were alter kokkers throwing temper tantrums because they couldn't use their old discount coupons (in some cases, as much as three years expired), and the other half were the dolts complaining that the coffee shops and reading chairs were blocked off. If either chain had been able to figure out how to make money off the retirees who'd come in at opening, grab a big stack of books, camp out in one of those reading chairs all day, demand freebies or severe discounts from the cafe, and only get up when the store was closing for the night, they'd remain in business for the next million years.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@ScottsMerkin It was so much nicer than the bathroom at 8.0's back in the day. I pissed there enough that I thought about buying my dick some reading glasses.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz I keep waiting for the price of tablets to bottom out. I own an iPad because I won it in a contest at work, but I would never actually buy one at that price. For the price of an iPad I can just about buy a full on gaming PC complete with a graphics card. The other tablets are cheaper, but still a little too pricey (and after the disaster of the Zune and Windows mobile products, I would never by a Microsoft tablet). Once tablet prices bottom out, that will be what sinks a lot of companies.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@Sharon_Moreanus That was partially the point I was trying to make below, though I think there will always be a niche for the small independent stores. Good Records does well in no small part because they constantly engage their customers. Premiere Video on Mockingbird does well because it's one of the few places you can find a lot of indie and old films. It's the big corporate chains that are in trouble.

If I were the CEO of Barnes and Noble I'd be shifting to an entirely on-line business model except for the rare store that still turns a good profit. They may never be able to catch up with Amazon, but they might be able to carve out a niche on-line to make some profit.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Worth noting, vinly records have made a huge come back.  Driven largely by the hipster crowd.  Not saying you'll see record stores come back, but vinlys are still a significant seller.

talismanthirteen
talismanthirteen

@observist @talismanthirteen I was born in 1976, but was quick to adapt to the emerging internet via Prodigy in the very early 90's. Businesses that don't adapt, die. I practically live in the Half Price Books in Lincoln Square, but alas they don't have a big selection of new releases readily available from my group of "Have to read as soon as their new book comes out" writers. 

Daniel
Daniel

@LeroyJenkem @Tim.Covington You sound like a grizzled battleaxe. I worked at the Lovers & Greenville Borders for a year (long ago), and it was actually worse than you describe. Homeless people bathing in the restrooms, drinking a dozen cups of the "sample" coffee and hanging out reading magazines as if we were a social services provider. But I had the least sympathy of all for people who would grab a stack of magazines almost literally a foot high, hang out in the cafe for hours reading them (and buying nothing), and just leave them there, now ratty and molested, for the staff to deal with. 

I can't say I've never browsed at a bookstore without buying, but I almost always at least get a cup of coffee (with tip) and a magazine.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

So you've never heard of a kindle?  $200 bucks dude.  Brand new, HD.  And seriously you are refrencing Zune?  A product that has basically been off the market for 2 years now?  That's an eternity in tech years.

If you're waiting around for a free tablet that all the things of an expensive tablet then there is no satisfying consumers like you. 

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

You realize that Barnes and Noble are the creator of the Nook right?  They basically created one product that all but guarentees the elimination of their original product. 

You could draw comparisons to netflix which started off with delivering physical disc and created the streaming content which guarenteed the original service was dead.  The difference is that netflix became the undisputed top dog in that new product (streaming movies).  Barnes and noble is 3rd of 4th place to Amazon, Itunes, Google....Not sure how they can survive w/ all the physical weight of the retail space. 

The name still has value, but the name didn't save blockbuster so I doubt it can save barnes and noble.

observist
observist topcommenter

@dallas_dude  Vinyl only seems cool if you didn't waste 1000 hours of your youth queuing up records and cassettes to make mix tapes that sounded like they were recorded around a cracking campfire next to basket of hissing snakes.  The vinyl that weighed 500 pounds and took a huge cabinet to store will now fit on the iPhone in your pocket.   Why go back to all that?   So they can repeat the hipster blather about analog having a "richer, warmer sound"?.  My eyes can't roll far back enough.

Guesty
Guesty

@dallas_dude Define "significant."  Vinyl is a hipster niche.  In 2012, there were almost 25 digital album downloads and 50 physical CDs sold for every vinyl album sold in America.  In total, vinyl accounted for less than 2% of all album sales, and that doesn't even account for single song downloads.  

talismanthirteen
talismanthirteen

@dallas_dude Yeah, I was bawling all over myself, not simultaneously pointing out why I love book stores and amazon at the same time. lol Some of you guys look way too hard for an argument when there isn't one. 


dallas_dude
dallas_dude

 I'm always amazed at the people who are only willing to pay the absolute lowest price possible for anything, and then who cry about the poor selection at their price point. 

99.99999999% of all internet reviews/comments fall under this area.  This needs to be put on a billboard.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

@talismanthirteenOf course the Half Price doesn't. The only way Half Price gets those new releases is if someone buys them, at full price, and then trades them in. QED. I'm always amazed at the people who are only willing to pay the absolute lowest price possible for anything, and then who cry about the poor selection at their price point. 

To be fair, not that it's any better at the employee level at Half Price. I remember one employee making a huge deal about how he was waiting for someone to drop a big American Letters volume in his store so he could snap it up for next to nothing, and he got really butthurt when I pointed out that this was contingent upon someone actually making a command decision and buying the damn thing in the first place. Sorry, but blogging about how great an upcoming book is going to be isn't the same thing as actually making a purchase.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

@Daniel Thanks, Daniel. I was a battleaxe, but on the other side. The day Borders management declared that the cost of the magazines destroyed by its cafe"customers" wouldn't be covered by the company, and instead had to be eaten by the publishers, was the day I knew that magazines were screwed. That's about the time several magazines for which I wrote shut down, because Borders got even worse about paying their outstanding invoices than before and my publishers were effectively providing free merchandise.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@dallas_dude yep idiots pay $700 for a PHONE bc it has a little apple on it.  Its really no better than a Galxy s4 or a Nexus.  5 years ago, sure, windows phones sucked and Android was shell of itself just gaining traction so it was worth the difference, now not so much

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Considering they are a software company I would tend to agree with you.  Your OPINION on windows phones is just that.  Look at their global market share growth in the last 5 quarters.  Windows phone is steadily growing.  In some markets it is the dominant phone. 

I would venture to say Xbox has been pretty successful hardware.

And you will always pay a price for being an early adopter.  Products are not "supposed" to be at any price.  They are what the market dictates.  Iphones are $700 b/c people are willing to pay $700.  Business 101 son.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@ScottsMerkin  Love my Galaxy s4. The iPad gets a hell of a lot less use these days. Though in defense of tablets, watching HBO Go on it isn't nearly as nice as watching it on an iPad. And most tablets don't auto-direct you to the mobile version of websites (often restricting what you can do) like phones do, though I'm sure if I were more tech savvy I could figure out how to turn that off.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@dallas_dude Like I said, I have an iPad so I really don't look into other devices that much. I just keep an eye on prices and I'm hoping they all end up around $200 (which is where they belong) except for the iPad with their standard Apple mark-up. What was it, 4 years ago that flatscreen TVs were still routinely $1,000? I expect tablets to follow a similar path and the price to keep dropping until it's reasonable.

Yes I referenced the Zune because it's part of a long line of futility from Microsoft when it comes to hardware. Windows Mobile phones are about the only smartphone on the market worse than Blackberry. The only piece of hardware Microsoft has ever made worth a damn is their optical mouse. 

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Ok....

I don't carry around my kindle with me.

For $200 bucks just have it layin on the coffee table or night stand or take it on trips.  It's not like investing in a new Laptop.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@dallas_dude One thing that turns me away from a tablet, is its redundancy of my phone.  Like literally they do the exact same thing.   Now if I won one, Id gladly use it, but I like to spend my electronics budget on the newest galaxy every year

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@P1Gunter @dallas_dude Ive been dicking around with windows 8 on my touchscreen laptop and its not bad once you are used to it.  I hear 8.1 fixes a lot of the complaints of 8.  We shall see

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@dallas_dude I feel like I'm coming off anti-Microsoft and I'm not. I like their software quite a bit (Windows 7 is a nice OS), I'm just leary of their hardware (though you're right, Xbox is a good device as well). Just the other day I was reading an article where Nokia has simply stopped exporting many models of their Windows Mobile phones to the US because it's a lost cause. Android and iOS are the clear winners for mobile devices, and I'll never understand how a company the size of Microsoft couldn't wave their dick around and get apps made for their devices.

But we can agree that Blockbuster was run by idiots. Much like with Napster back in 2000, when those video kiosks started popping up it was pretty clear that was the future for video rental. Or the option of streaming would be pretty damn enticing.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Forward thinking my @ass.  They simply got it right first.  They were first in line to cut the deal with the record companies to sell content individually. 

And microsoft didn't do anything wrong w/ Zune, it was a great product.  Check reviews for zune products on Amazon.  hundreds of reviews, almost 5 stars. It was just too late to the party.  Most people already adopted the Apple universe as their way of getting digital content. 

And it's not like they weren't making billions and billions on windows, office, and building up the giant that is XBox.  3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Blockbuster was just fucking stupid.  They guy who created Netflix came from Blockbuster and tried to get them to invest.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@dallas_dude I am aware, but they dragged their feet too long on it just as Blockbuster did with video kiosks. In both cases, by the time they realized that was the future they were so far behind that catching up was impossible.

Not that I am at all an Apple fan, but iTunes was extremely forward thinking. I was in college during the Napster craze and literally the entire University of North Texas internet ground to a halt as kids downloaded thousands and thousands of songs a piece. It was obvious to everyone that it was the wave of the future, and once Napster was shut down (and it's smaller contemporaries became just spam) Apple stepped right in to fill the void. And on top of that, they marketed the iPod spectacularly while Microsoft was screwing the pooch with the Zune. You mentioned Netflix, which is also a great example of a forward thinking company. Though if Apple ever puts marketing money behind Apple TV, I could see them chewing up some of the Netflix marketshare.

messwright
messwright

@observist This is my favorite comment ever! So true.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@Guesty @dallas_dude Not that I believe your numbers are too terribly far off, but keep in mind that music sales numbers are weighted oddly by Soundscan, the company that tracks the data. That can be either a good thing or a bad thing for vinyl. A lot of vinyl is re-sold used by a place like Half Price that last I'd checked didn't participate in Soundscan. On the other side, most new vinyl is bought from independent stores (like Good Records) and those numbers are inflated. I haven't been in the music business since 2001, but if I recall back then if you bought a CD at say, Target, it counted as one unit. But if you bought it at Good Records it counted as 5 units for tracking purposes. Granted this was before iTunes really took off, so I have no idea how that works into the equation now.

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