When the pandemic enveloped the world in March of 2020, book lovers in Jonesboro were dealt a double blow. At the end of the same month during the same year, a powerful E-3 tornado ripped through the city’s center.
It destroyed much of The Mall at Turtle Creek including the Barnes & Noble Booksellers building. For years, speculation swirled that the bookstore would be back.
It will be soon.
Haag Brown Commercial announced Wednesday (Jan. 25) that Barnes & Noble will locate at the confluence of Caraway Road and East Highland Drive. It will occupy the former Pier One space within the Crossroads Shopping Center, which is near Office Max. Jeremy Gamble owns the center.
“Persistence was definitely the key to securing this deal. Getting Barnes & Noble back to Jonesboro has been a work in progress for me personally since March 2020, after the tornado hit our mall. I am so glad we’re finally able to make this announcement, as we know it has been a long time coming,” said Zac Qualls, Haag Brown Commercial Executive Broker.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. A timetable to open the bookstore was not released.
“Having a local owner for this type of real estate is so important — they personally know the needs and wants of the community and at the end of the day, they’ll be shopping there with their family. Jeremy Gamble was able to acquire the assets, knew the need for the bookseller to be back in our market, and within 2-3 weeks (literally!) we were able to ink the deal in the former Pier One box,” Qualls said.
This new business will officially launch the redevelopment of the Crossroads center into “The Uptown at Crossroads.” Under new ownership, the 45,000-square-foot complex will undergo numerous aesthetic changes to complement the surrounding growth, including a new color scheme, modern exterior lighting, and improved signage, said Joshua Brown, Haag Brown Development Principal
“Ideas are great, but it’s implementation that’s key. If you can’t execute, nothing happens. We have a local shopping center owner who is going to make things happen and we have a leasing broker who was inspired to bring Barnes & Noble back to our community. This team will make things happen that are good for the community. I am thankful to be a part of it,” Brown said.
Despite drastic declines during the last two decades in the bookstore sector, it remains a $9 billion industry annually, according to Statista. Barnes and Noble occupied more than a third of the market at $3.57 billion.
Physical book sales alone accounted for more than $700 million in 2021. An estimated 65% of adults surveyed said they’d read a printed book during the last year.