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Shake-Up on Route 12A: BAM Book Shop Not Closing After All

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 6/19/2016 12:15:27 AM
Modified: 6/21/2016 9:26:44 AM

West Lebanon — Books-a-Million, the West Lebanon books and entertainment merchandise store that is losing its lease at the Valley Square Shopping Center in West Lebanon, is close to getting a new home six-tenths of a mile north on Route 12A at the Kmart Shopping Plaza.

BAM, which is being forced out of its current location to make way for a Michaels craft store outlet, has been approved by the Lebanon Planning and Zoning Department for a $45,000 renovation of the vacant retail space formerly occupied by the Sleep Source mattress store. BAM indicated on its permit application that it also expects to expand into the adjacent space currently occupied by Rent-a-Center.

Rent-a-Center, meanwhile, has been approved by the department for a $100,000 renovation of the vacant retail space a few suites west and adjacent to the Jo-Ann’s fabric and crafts store that was formerly occupied by gift store The Mouse Menagerie. The gift store vacated the space following Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and moved into storefront in the Valley Square shopping center before closing last year.

The round-robin of retail store shifts were set in motion this past spring when Redstone Investments, the Ohio- and Florida-based property management company, filed plans with the city to renovate the current Books-a-Million store into a Michaels store. The plans took Birmingham, Ala.-based BAM by surprise and left workers at the West Lebanon store fearful it would be closing and they would lose their jobs.

But after BAM learned its lease would not be renewed in Valley Square, it began scouting for a new location.

“We’ve been in the (Upper Valley) community for five years and very much wanted to stay,” said Steven Bowman, a regional vice president at Books-a-Million. “It’s a great area to be part of.”

He said the company is in the final states of negotiating details with Kmart Plaza’s owner, Windalier West Lebanon LLC, an affiliate of South Portland, Maine-based Dead River Co.

BAM’s new location in the Kmart Plaza nonetheless would entail slightly less store space, even after taking into account the expansion into the neighboring Rent-a-Center space. The store’s renovation plan on file with the city of Lebanon, however, does not include plans for an in-house Joe Muggs cafe and espresso bar as it has at its current. location.

The bookstore is looking to hire a co-manager and assistant manager, according to a posting on its door.

Although brick-and-mortar bookstores have been crushed by the online giant Amazon — the BAM location previously was an outlet in the Borders bookstore chain, which went bankrupt in 2011 — sales at the West Lebanon location have remained strong due to a mix of products that include toys, games, electronics, music, movies and magazines in addition to the cafe.

John Lippman can be reached at 603-727-3219 or jlippman@vnews.com.




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