The last page of the Barnes & Noble store in downtown Minneapolis is about to turn.
The store, which opened in RSM Plaza in the early 1990s and anchored a corner of Nicollet Mall since, will close at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Patty Andrus, who has shopped regularly at the store since the start, picked up books by Danielle Steel and Daniel Silva there on Thursday.
“I’ve come here every other week since it opened,” said Andrus, who lives in Lake Elmo and works downtown. “I prefer to browse in the store than go online. It’s easy to shop downtown.”
The closing comes just more than a month after Macy’s closed its landmark store, on the corner of 8th and Nicollet diagonally opposite Barnes & Noble.
But the last few weeks of the bookseller’s business contrast with those of the Macy’s store. Instead of the progressive markdown sale that started at 20 percent and escalated to 90 percent at Macy’s, Barnes & Noble only cut the prices on nonbook items, such as greeting cards, toys and games. The reason: Most of the store’s books will be packed and distributed to other stores.
A small amount of remaining books and seasonal items are discounted 50 percent, but a casual observer may not have even noticed the store was conducting a closing sale — and had been since early January. Only the large stacks of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap on the second floor give it away.
In January, a representative from Golub & Co. in Chicago, which owns the RSM Plaza in which the bookstore is located, said Barnes & Noble was looking for a smaller location downtown. The current store occupies 25,000 square feet over two levels. Reports circulated that the company wanted a single-level space of around 15,000 square feet.
Representatives from Barnes & Noble were not available to comment if such a search is still in effect.
Jim Vos, principal at the commercial real estate firm Cresa Minneapolis, said he hasn’t heard that Barnes & Noble is actively searching for a new location. “It will be hard to find commitments before the mall is open,” he said. “Once we see less dust there will be more velocity.”
Mackenzie Schiltz, merchandise manager at the Nicollet Mall store, said Thursday that she had heard of no plans to move or open a new location.
Last year, Barnes & Noble moved its store in the Edina Galleria to a smaller space in that shopping center. It added a restaurant and bar to the store in a concept test that company executives said is designed to get shoppers to linger in the store.
About 20 full- and part-time employees in Minneapolis are affected, but they are being given the opportunity to work at one of the other 12 Barnes & Nobles stores in the Twin Cities, Schiltz said.
Despite the Macy’s and Barnes & Noble closings, downtown Minneapolis is seeing some new retail activity — in food and drink.
Haskell’s recently announced its plans to add a wine bar in the former Dunn Brothers on Nicollet Mall. And a new Trader Joe’s will open later this year on Washington Avenue.