Update, 1/4: Reverse! Books-A-Million is gonna stay put.
Southeastern U.S. chain Books-A-Million has decided to close its Downtown Houston store on January 15th. The decision has left management of Houston Pavilions feeling rather put-out: Managers at the downtown mall reportedly had lowered the bookstore’s rent on the 2-story, approximately 23,000-sq.-ft. space facing the light rail line at 1201 Main St. to just $3,000 a month — in hopes the concession would prevent it from shutting down. A source insists the store “wasn’t a huge flop,” but says that the Katy Mills Mall Books-A-Million typically brought in more than 5 times the sales of the Downtown store — even though the 2 locations are about the same size.
Another factor that may have played a role in Books-A-Million’s decision to close: A pending lawsuit filed against the company after the location’s former manager reportedly kicked a man and his wheelchair-riding, apparently mentally disabled son out of the store. “At some point [the son] soiled himself and the [manager] took this as a vagrance and kicked them out. Needless to say the boy’s family were outraged,” a source tells Swamplot. The manager is no longer with the company, though reportedly for “unrelated” reasons.
Most customers of the Downtown store were people who worked Downtown; the store never drew many shoppers from its Pavilions neighbors, which included literary hotspots House of Blues, XXI Forever and Lucky Strike. Nights and weekends at the bookstore were desolate. And now the store will be gone before any bookish Scott Gertner fans can spark a turnaround. Will a blowout book sale bring on the crowds for a grand finale? Don’t count on it: Most in-stock books will likely be sent back to the warehouse; most non-book items have already been discounted.
- Houston Pavilions coverage [Swamplot]