If you stop in the Georgetown Barnes & Noble these last days of the year you will notice a big sale and fewer books and book racks. It's all coming to an end. I remember being upset about the demise of Francis Scott Key Books, and railed against B&N and other chains for being the cause. Now I'm mourning the loss of B&N. During the summer we lost Bartleby's. There's still tiny Bridge Street, but the owner has hinted he hopes to move to New York. What kind of neighborhood doesn't have a book store? Or, put another way, what kind of neighborhood has more athletic shoe stores than book stores?
The rumor is that Nike will go into the B&N space. If this were 2000 that would be cool. It would be new and fresh, but now a Nike store is very a decade ago and, besides, we already have shoes. We have the very good The Running Company, an indie, and then okay but not great chains, City Sports and Sports Zone. Do we need a multi-story emporium of athletic shoes? No. But if we have to have it here why can't it be in the mall? There's a simple reason. I don't think any of these mall stores want to be in malls anymore. They want to be back out on the street, in the air, among the foot traffic. Malls are the Pac Man of shopping, and the mall owners are stuck with that fact.
Just the same, I will miss B&N. I used it in so many different ways. First, of course, to buy books and magazines and CD's, and similar last century stuff. Before a trip I loved to go in there to find books that would help me plot my course. And maps! It was good for a cup of coffee. It was good as a place to meet someone. When my son was younger we loved spending idle time there, wandering and shopping, and enjoying the story-telling time in the children's section. That's quite sentimental for me.
Woe be Georgetown. I know in the commercial corridor it feels bigger in its britches than ever before, but the britches are polyester and don't match the rest of the outfit. Yes, polyester lasts forever, but it goes out of fashion and gets discarded quickly. Good luck.