Old Orchard Barnes and Noble set to reopen

Elliot Hoffner and Grace Jorgensen

When COVID-19 struck, Evanston and the surrounding areas lost many businesses, and many locals mourned the loss of multiple Barnes & Nobles. This popular bookstore not only left downtown Evanston but also the Old Orchard mall in Skokie. However, after being closed for only a year, the beloved bookstore is coming back to the mall. The new and improved location will have two floors, with 20,000 square feet, and contain a Paper Source. 

Opening November 16, many loyal Barnes & Noble customers are anxiously awaiting its return. The Barnes & Noble Old Orchard location originally opened in 1994. After inhabiting the space for 27 years, the bookstore closed on December 21, 2021, due to the pandemic. When Barnes & Noble reopens it will be moving to a new location within the mall– where Toms Price Home previously was located. 

Even with their comforting atmosphere, Barnes & Noble still struggles. Amazon has started to box out small and large bookstores. According to The Motley Fool, Barnes & Noble’s stock dropped around 20% in 2021. 

“I try to support independent bookstores as much as possible, but sometimes urgency and convenience do come into play and I may break down and order something from Amazon.  Usually, however, it’s not books that I turn to Amazon for but other stuff,” says William Latham, the head librarian at ETHS. 

The closings of several Barnes & Noble’s across the country can also be blamed on COVID-19. ETHS’s teacher librarian Robina Button grew up in Niles and remembers coming to the Old Orchard Barnes & Noble very frequently.

“I think it’s a big systemic problem. Not only just for bookstores, but malls [as well]” says Button, commenting on the closings of businesses due to the pandemic. 

“I’d go two or three times a week,” says Button. She describes Barnes & Noble as an atmospheric hangout spot. The Starbucks that often inhabits Barnes and Noble’s can be a factor in that coziness.

“I would just go there to hang out… it’s the atmosphere they put out,” Button says.

As Evanston gears up for the holiday season, Barnes & Noble will welcome eager gift shoppers with open arms. Among these customers is Serge Khalimsky, the mall’s general manager. 

“[Barnes & Noble] has been a staple at the center for many years, so we are thrilled for its return in time for holiday shopping,” says Khalimsky.

The holidays are a big hit for bookstores like Barnes and Noble. Most stores see an uptick in sales around Thanksgiving and in December when more shoppers want gifts for their family and friends. Since Barnes & Noble offers not only books, but also board games, collectibles, a variety of toys, LEGOs, and more, Barnes & Noble is an easy and accessible store to shop for any loved one. 

With Paper Source moving in and offering a wide variety of stationery and gifts, customers are able to have a one-stop shopping experience at this revived Barnes & Noble, as well as have the welcoming and familiar bookstore the mall has been missing.

Starting November 16, Barnes & Noble will be waiting with open arms for every avid reader.