By Sarina Trangle
Fresh Meadows Barnes & Noble shoppers are hoping the closing sale is just another plot twist in the decade-old shop’s history.
Barnes & Noble announced it would close its 176-60 Union Turnpike store at the end of December because negotiations to renew its lease failed.
An online petition seeking to save the store had collected nearly 400 signatures by Monday. Jim Gallagher, president of Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, said the group hoped elected officials could convince the bookstore and property owner, Utopia Center Acquisition LLC, to reach a resolution.
Although no specific plans seem to have surfaced, Bronx politicians successfully convinced Barnes & Noble to remain open another two years at its Bay Plaza location in that borough.
“We’re very, very upset about the closing there,” Gallagher said. “People in the community love going there — the schools, all the neighboring schools use it. I know my civic would give out appreciation awards to students and give them gift certificates.”
Gallagher said he had heard a T.J. Maxx would move in, but the clothing company would not comment on that.
And Utopia Center Acquisition LLC could not be reached for comment.
When asked for comment, Barnes & Noble only confirmed the store’s closure.
“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, vice president of development at the company. “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.”
But many perusing the 30 percent off tables at the closing sale last week said with Bayside’s store more than 5 miles away and the 4-mile trek to Forest Hills’ shop meant getting in their car.
“I drive, but it’s just much more convenient here. I live 10 blocks away,” said Arthur Quint, who said he visits the Fresh Meadows store about once a week. “I get magazines, books, calendars, knickknacks — my wife goes to Starbucks, and I’m here.”
Isabel Luk, a St. John’s University sophomore, said she grew up shopping at the bookstore and was dreading the day she could no longer ask her relatives to pick her up outside the Barnes& Noble.
“I’m going to miss it because I’m from the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s like a part of my childhood is leaving.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4546.