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Charlotte Area News

Two Bookstores To Close Their SouthPark Chapters

Two big-box book stores in Charlotte's SouthPark neighborhood have announced plans to close in the coming months. It's "The End" for Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Borders in SouthPark. Joseph Beth plans to close by the end of this month. Borders will shutter in January. Both chains blame the recession, the internet and the growing popularity of electronic books. "Across the entire book selling world we're seeing increased competition for where books are purchased," says Joseph-Beth spokesman Chad Showalter. Joseph-Beth is also closing its store in Pittsburgh for similar reasons. The company opened in South Park just five years ago. Borders has been in the upscale shopping district since the 90's. That was when book stores started expanding into literary cathedrals boasting covering tens of thousands of square feet. But book sales haven't kept pace. "Basically they were using books as wall paper," says Sally Brewster, owner of the much-smaller Park Road Book Store. "(The big stores) have to make sure every one of those square feet is moving product, so they're worrying about 27,000 square feet moving product, rather than 3,800 square feet moving product." Park Road is one of the few locally-owned book stores in Charlotte that survived the arrival of big box competitors. Brewster says her small size and local-ownership have proven assets in the recession because she can respond to customer demands and hot book trends more quickly than a chain store. Sales at Park Road Books have dropped about 7 percent since the recession began, but Brewster says she's in no danger of closing the store or laying off workers. Borders says slow sales have led it to close 207 stores in the last year. The SouthPark location is one of 14 stores Borders will close in January. Park Road Book Store, on the other hand, stands to gain customers and prestigious book-signing events when its big box competitors turn the final page.