The Books-A-Million store in Central Texas Marketplace has written its final chapter, announcing it will hold a closing sale through June 1.
At 18,000 square feet, the store since 2005 has held a prominent place in the sprawling center at Interstate 35 and West Loop 340. But apparently it was not living up to the Alabama-based chain’s financial expectations, at least in recent years.
“We do routinely evaluate each one of our retail locations, and at this time we have chosen to close this location,” company spokeswoman Laura Collins wrote in an email.
The store sells not only books but games, electronics and toys. It was known for its large selection of magazines that covered its rear wall.
“We’re disappointed,” said Julie King, who Monday was browsing through a display of heavily discounted books with sons Dylan and Andrew, ages 11 and 10, respectively. “We come here as a family activity at least two times a month, and I drop by even more often than that.”
King said she and her husband, Ryan, both are employed at Baylor University and love visiting bookstores.
“Unfortunately, weekday crowds here are not that great, which I guess is part of the problem,” she said.
Even with prices slashed 20 to 50 percent, only a handful of people were inside the store around noon Monday. Two or three shoppers who said they preferred not to give their names said they do not routinely shop at Books-A-Million but heard about the quitting-business bargains.
But Carrie Salazar, 30, of Waco, said she and her 9-year-old twin girls love the selection of children’s books and the atmosphere.
“I prefer this store over the others,” she said. “The prices are good, and you have more options here than at Barnes & Noble.”
Jimmy Rogers, who manages the Panera Bread eatery at the marketplace, said he regrets the demise of Books-A-Million.
“You never want a major anchor to close,” he said, adding, “I’m sure a few people bought books and read them while enjoying a meal here.”
He joined several other store managers in saying the center as a whole is doing well, adding his Panera shop holds the top spot for sales volume among Texas stores.
Cabela’s, a major player among sellers of outdoor gear, has announced it will build in the marketplace.
“Our sales have gone up tremendously since I moved here from downtown in 2009,” said Monica Mathis, who owns Amelia’s Fashion Exchange.
Books-A-Million also enjoyed memorable days. Thousands attended book signings by former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, both in 2010.
It is not the only bookstore chain facing tough decisions to remain relevant in a changing environment.
Barnes & Noble announced in January it would close 20 stores a year nationwide for the next decade, though the Waco location has not been named a potential casualty.
Meanwhile, Hastings said earlier this month it would attempt to improve its bottom line by reducing music, rentals and books in its stores to make room for new product lines.
The Books-A-Million building is leased, not owned, and attempts to find a new user have begun.
“We are marketing the space and have several prospects interested. However, we cannot announce any names until leases are finalized,” said Jason Kasal, vice president and leasing director for RPAI Southwest Management LLC, in a statement issued to the Tribune-Herald.
Collins said store employees will be given opportunities to work at other Books-A-Million locations.