Both Upper Valley Mall bookstores slated to close

SPRINGFIELD — The two bookstores at the Upper Valley Mall — Waldenbooks and B. Dalton — are slated to close in early 2010, according to the parent companies of both businesses.

If neither is replaced, it will leave Clark County without an independent bookstore. Local options that remain will include the book departments of stores like Wal-Mart, Ollies, Target and Meijer, and stores that focus on used books or comic books.

Borders Group Inc., parent company of Waldenbooks, and Barnes & Noble Inc., parent company of B. Dalton, have announced plans to close their local stores by January of next year.

The announcement will not affect Wittenberg University’s bookstore which is run by Barnes & Noble, said Ryan Maurer, university spokesman.

Corporate leasing agents for the Upper Valley Mall are in negotiations with another bookstore to locate in the space occupied by B. Dalton, said Mall Manager Brenda LaBonte. No details will be available until a deal has been signed.

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Talks are underway with a clothing retailer to potentially take over the Waldenbooks space, she said.

The Waldenbooks closure comes as part of an attempt to “right-size” and create a “smaller, more profitable mall chain in fiscal 2010,” according to a company release issued Nov. 5. About 200 Waldenbooks across the country will be closed, which will eliminate approximately 1,500 positions, mostly part-time.

Employees have been informed of the store closure “and efforts will be made to place qualified individuals in other positions within Borders Group. Displaced employees will receive severance,” the company said.

Barnes & Noble will close 50 remaining B. Dalton stores by the end of January 2010, according to Carolyn Brown, company spokesperson.

“These are small format, low volume stores, in malls and their leases are expiring. This is in line with what we’ve been doing over the last eight years, closing 35 to 40 stores per year as their leases expire,” she said in an e-mail.

Brown said some booksellers will be given an option to move to jobs at Barnes & Noble stores if there are locations nearby; others will be given severance packages.

Neither company would reveal numbers of local jobs to be eliminated.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0371 or elroberts@coxohio.com.

Staff writer Kelly Mori contributed to this story.

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