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River Bank Books Closed

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That's discouraging. Chris Knape links to some "not so great" reviews of Riverbank Books at g-rad:

http://www.g-rad.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3397

I have to say I bought a couple of books there, and the atmosphere was pretty cool, but the selection was not great. They should have given more space to books and left out such a gigantic cafe in the middle, as well as shrunk the CD/greeting card sections.

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Any bookstore closing is a tragedy. But I agree with the Chris' article and statements...the situation is depressing.

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That's too bad, they saved me in my time of "Christmas present" need. They had copies of "Vintage Grand Rapids" while the 2 Schulers that I called/visited did not. The place was dead when I arrived, but looked nice.

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It would be nice if Schuler's picked up the Baton. I really liked the store. I would agree though, get rid of most of the CD's and gifts, and add more space for books (eliminate the stage for one). Schuler's has a much bigger distribution channel (Border's), so it might lessen the complaints about having to wait for a book. They also seem to be able to come close to Barnes and Noble prices.

It's a bummer though. Everytime I was there, it was pretty well packed.

Joe

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It really is too bad about the loss of this type of retail downtown.

It must have been tough. Book margins are tough...got to sell a ton of trinkets and fancy sandwiches really make a profit.

Still, I did not really find their service great. I would go into the store 2 twice a week for lunch and to look for the magazine "Economist". They never had any on the shelf even though their computer inventory said they had 4. Every single time I mentioned that the inventory could be incorrect. They never really looked into it.

One time, one of the workers told me there is no magazine called the Economist!! They said I was talking about the Ecologist...no I was not. I have read the Economist off and on for about 15 years.

That is one of the great things about Schulers Books...they know their stuff back and forth. I once applied for a job their and felt embarrassed I did not pass their application quiz...and I have read a lot in the past!

Back to the topic...I hope something good can go in here.

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One of the forumers linked by Chris mentioned the bag collection. When they started that, they required that laptoppers surrender their computer bags. Didn't feel real friendly at all.

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One of the forumers linked by Chris mentioned the bag collection. When they started that, they required that laptoppers surrender their computer bags. Didn't feel real friendly at all.

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The e-mail that Chris Knape received from the owner states that there are "currently potential buyers".

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NO! Please tell me this is a joke? That was my favorite bookstore. Going there Sunday for lunch was always special to me and my wife.

Ugh! If these guys cant make it downtown, then retail here is in deep trouble.

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anyone know how b&n and schulers and the like handle loss prevention, never heard of them confiscating bags but I can understand the fear of loss...

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I dont think it was a retail can't survive downtown issue with the bookstore. With the comments here and g-rad, it looks more like they had inadequate customer service and poor selection.

Granted the bookstore market is tough, but if you fail to have the above, especially customer service in spades then you're not going to be that sucussful, a la Schuler's.

Now that it doesn't appear that the bookstore for Division/Fulton is no longer part of the plan, perhaps a larger retailer with greater name recognition will take over and perhaps even succeed in the location.

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Man, this is so depressing! Especially after such a great week downtown where I was so proud of our fair city.

I'm not one who buys a lot of books, but I started once this opened. I loved to park in the Monroe ramp for free and walk across Monroe Center and buy books for my son...we found such cool kids books there! I'm glad I went there last week over Christmas to buy some stuff - I would have had no idea that was the last time! That was my big excuse to just randomly go downtown and walk around and I looked so forward to the day where I could make a whole day of it shopping down there, not just one store.

Maybe someone will buy it and some good will come from this, but I'm not too hopeful and now quite upset :cry:

Thanks for the short memories, RB Books (too bad I almost got my frequent customer reward!)

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Depressing indeed.

I always found the service there to be very good. If they did not have a book, they were always willing to order it for me, and did so on several occasions.

I see several reasons they had problems:

1. As was mentioned, the selection wasn't great. I stopped to purchase three books as gifts. They did not have any of them, and could only order one. That was the only time I had that problem, but my guess is there were many others who had similar issues.

2. The bookstore was a risky, gutsy bet. Why not simply limit it to books? I mean, was a cafe, stage and a section for cd's and other gifts really necessary? All that does is increase build out costs at the outset and ongoing overhead in the future. I think had they started on a smaller scale and really focused on books and maybe a small coffee bar, things would have gone better.

2. Downtown construction is KILLING retail. I shop at F. David Barney's quite a bit and they have suffered greatly this year, especially during the holiday season when they have had to put up with the construction across the street on the RDV building along with the new Ledyard building's owner's decision to rebuild the sidewalk during the busy holiday shopping season. Let's face it, people want convenience. If they can't use the sidewalk to get from point A to point B, they likely will not be looking for an alternate route.

It's probably a Catch-22 because downtown needs to improve for more retail to come and do well. Nevertheless, you would think building owners would think things through a bit better before ebarking on projects during prime retail shopping periods (i.e. the Holiday Season). It still amazes me that the Ledyard's owners did that to all of their retail tenants on the ground floor. The sidewalk had been like that forever. Would one more month have hurt?

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You're depressed!?

They owe my company money.....

Let's hope (for many reasons) that a buyer surfaces or re-organization will occur. This is a real blow for downtown.

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I found the owner to be rather abrasive and difficult. I won't elaborate, but if you read the posts Knape linked to on G-RAD there were other people or former employees that had less than pleasant experiences as well.

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We've all lost money on this store's closing. I feel most badly about the $50,000 "grant"..or..."subsidy"...or..."head start" she was given by the DDA to locate downtown. That's public money we'll never be able to retrieve. If she didn't secure sufficient capital to survive more than a year, I'm afraid she was doomed from the start. That's true of any small business regardless if it opens on 28th Street or in Center City. :blink:

Let's all hope another book seller will jump in and fill the gap!

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I say the effort is a+. I was actually surprised to learn that it wasn't simply a bookstore. It was more of a gather place to lounge out, type stuff on the computer, and drink coffee? There was probably more to that, but it seemed like it was more concentrating on the hipness rather than the business concept of selling books.

If I remember, the SBA reports that 80% of small business will fail. There's probably a whole host of reasons why that is, but I don't think downtown's ability to support retail is the sole cause.

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Let's all be a aware that the owner of the bookstore reads this forum. She is not a public figure, so any criticism of her personally should be left out of the discussion.

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I don't read this as an attack Jeff and I think it's a valid point. The City of GR (read....the tax payers of GR) are out a lot of money. I think its valid discussion.

Maybe it brings up a larger topic, does there need to be some sort of stop-gap in place for "incentives" that are given to new businesses? When I work on a Historic Tax Credit project I'm under a 5 year recapture penalty. That means that if I sell the building that I received tax credits on, in that period of time, I owe the Federal government a pro-rated amount of money back.

I don't know what the statistics are but I'd have to say that it takes at least two years for a business to establish itself. I've seen a rash of this lately around town, new business goes in and is gone in six months. How can you even begin to establish yourself in that short amount of time?

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Also remember that this particular business owner is successful with other stores; it's not like she's a bookstore novice and didn't know what she was doing.

My opinion- let's not pile on a person who stepped out and made a great effort to bring a quality retail offering to the city. She probably risked and possibly lost a lot more than the $50,000 grant (which likely went towards improvements to the space and thus isn't a total loss).

I respect what they tried to do, and hope someone can pick up the pieces and make it work.

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I say the effort is a+. I was actually surprised to learn that it wasn't simply a bookstore. It was more of a gather place to lounge out, type stuff on the computer, and drink coffee? There was probably more to that, but it seemed like it was more concentrating on the hipness rather than the business concept of selling books.

...

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Can the concept of a "bargain books" work its place?

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With the colleges in the area you would think that some kind of arrangement could be made to supply books and materials, and cater to the students. I realize that most college bookstores are operated by the big book retailers like Barnes and Noble and Borders, but why not an arrangement with one of them?

My spouse and I often visit college/university bookstores when we travel (Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Providence, etc.) and we find really cool stuff!

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