A local woman is hoping that through an online petition aimed to keep the Barnes & Noble in Bayside open, the voices of an outraged community will be heard.
Vasiliki Gliagias has been living in Bayside for 15 years and lives only a couple of blocks away from the Bay Terrace shopping center, which is home to one of the last remaining Barnes & Noble locations in Queens.
Gliagias, along with many other book lovers, was shocked and upset when she heard that the Bayside site would meet the same fate as the Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills — which will become a Target by July 2016 — leaving Queens without the retailer.
“I have so many memories of going to Barnes & Noble and browsing through books I could read over the summer, choosing books for school from a reading list, even just getting magazines with friends,” Gliagias said. “I knew that I could not be the only one upset about such a thing. I thought about other families I see with kids in the children’s section of the store.”
Out of this anger, Gliagias launched the Facebook page “Keep Barnes & Noble Open in Queens” as a way to inform fellow Queens residents about the closings. In just the first day the page garnered 400 likes, and the following day shot up to 1,000 likes and just kept growing.
Through this page, a commenter made Gliagias aware of a similar situation in the Bronx where a Barnes & Noble location was slated to close because the company had not renewed the lease. After the community started a petition, elected officials hopped onto the issue and in the end helped the store stay at the location.
After hearing this and seeing all the comments and people’s shared frustrations, Gliagias started on a petition on Change.org – which has garnered 744 supporters in less than 24 hours — with hopes that they will gain support from local elected officials and ultimately save the bookstore.
“The Queens community is not kidding around. It’s easy to shut down retail stores who are not able to pay their lease, but a special consideration should be made for educational centers like Barnes & Noble that are so important to foster a well-rounded community. Those with families insist that actual books are better learning tools for children,” Gliagias said.
The petition, which has a goal of 1,000 signatures, will be sent to property owner Cord Meyer Development calling on them to keep the Bayside Barnes & Noble open.
According to a representative from Cord Meyer Development, a HomeGoods store will take over the Bayside Barnes & Noble. The representative said that the property owner made repeated attempts at securing a long-term contract with the bookstore, but that Barnes & Noble decided not to exercise the option to renew the lease.
“Cord Meyer has not closed the book on B&N, and would welcome the bookstore back as a tenant in Bay Terrace, once they develop a business plan that would work in our shopping center,” the representative said.
Along with the Forest Hills and Bayside locations, a Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, closed its doors at the end of last year after failing to negotiate a lease extension, and a T.J. Maxx will take over the site.