After 26 years, Barnes & Noble Clybourn is closing

By Megha Khemka, Junior Editor-in-Chief

With heavy discounts on all products in its final weeks, Barnes & Noble Clybourn’s shelves are already emptying. Photo by Megha Khemka.

With its lease coming to an end, longtime bookstore Barnes & Noble will be closing its Clybourn location on Sunday, March 19. 

Having operated in the neighborhood for 26 years, the two-story store next to DePaul University has become a well-known establishment in Lincoln Park. Along with books and magazines, it carries a variety of board games, vinyl records, and other merchandise. Its second floor also features a café, where customers can enjoy Starbucks beverages and snacks while reading or working. 

For many, the store had become a central part of life in the neighborhood. Percy Smith, a vendor for local street paper StreetWise, has been selling magazines in front of the store for almost a decade. He has gotten to know many of the families that frequent the location on weekends, and will miss the community that formed around it.

“I was devastated when I heard the news about Barnes & Noble closing,” added Selin Adigozel ‘24, who often visited the location to read and complete schoolwork. “It was a staple part of our neighborhood and losing that was just so sad.”

The store is one of the last remaining in the Webster Place shopping center, which was sold at a loss to Novak Construction, a local contractor, in 2022. After it closes, the only remaining business will be the Regal Cinemas movie theater. Novak has not specified its plans for the complex, and it is unclear whether a new development will take the bookstore’s place.

With e-commerce eating away at brick-and-mortar revenue, a trend exacerbated by the pandemic, Barnes & Noble Clybourn is just one of a number of neighborhood landmarks that have recently shuttered. While a small store is still in operation in the Loop’s Depaul Center, those looking to visit a full-size Barnes & Noble will now have to travel to the newly-opened location in Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie.

Many local independent bookstores, though, continue to thrive around the city, with staff recommendations, author visits, and a sense of community that cannot be replicated online. Barnes and Noble Clybourn was able to embody some of that spirit in recent years, hosting events like a Harry Potter party in anticipation of the release of The Cursed Child and emphasizing book displays with themes like “#BookTok.” 

In fact, the chain appears to have enjoyed a fair amount of success in recent years, and is looking to re-open in a new location soon. “We are doing everything we can to determine the perfect spot for a new bookstore,” shared the B&N Webster Place team in a letter to the community. In the meantime, customers can make the most of the store’s last days by purchasing discounted books and other products. Everything in the store is currently 75% off, and many shelves are already empty.

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