CHARLOTTE — Another Charlotte-area bookstore is closing, this time at the Cotswold Village Shops. The store will be replaced by a Cost Plus World Market, a furniture, home decor, food, wine and gifts store.
An email was sent to customers in early February saying that the store would be liquidating inventory ahead of an expected March closing date. Other major tenants in the shopping center include Harris Teeter, Marshalls and Petsmart. The shopping center recently added a Panera Bread.
The store opened in the shopping center on South Sharon Amity Road in 2005, the same year SouthPark Mall’s Joseph-Beth bookstore opened. Books-A-Million is only the most recent in a series of chain bookstores closing, including Joseph-Beth in 2010 and Borders in 2011.
Darrell Palasciano, broker and retail analyst with The Shopping Center Group who lives less than a mile from the shopping center, said he thinks Books-A-Million closed for similar reasons that many other brick-and-mortar bookstores have closed in the Charlotte area and across the country in recent years.
“I would surmise at some level that maybe the overall health of the bookstore industry is in question,” he said. “Borders went out, Barnes & Noble has been in that papers recently. It’s no secret the book sector of retail has been shifting to online books. We are seeing people flocking back to local booksellers, though.”
Palasciano said there is a lot of interest in Cotswold Village, so he wasn’t surprised a new tenant was lined up right away. According to the shopping center website, there is only one vacancy in the entire center, which previously housed a Rack Room Shoes location. The empty space is 1,600 square feet, and while empty, leaves the center with a 98 percent occupancy rate.
“I would venture a guess that it could be 100-percent leased very soon,” Palasciano said. “That’s a very strong shopping center in a very strong submarket. And there are very few retail opportunities in the Cotswold market, and there’s very high demand for space. It’s always been a good shopping center.”
DDR Corp, a commercial real estate firm, bought Cotswold Village in September 2011.
“It’s changed hands a few times over a very long life, but as someone who lives there, I’m very excited that DDR has purchased it because they have a very good understanding of the local Charlotte markets and the capital, resources and availability to keep the shopping center at the top of the market,” Palasciano said.
“They have great relationships with top national retailers. “I think DDR has done a very good job selecting the right users for these spaces. They’ve managed to mix in local businesses with big-name retailers. I’m very confidant that the two recent spaces leased to Panera and World Market will be well received. They definitely had plenty of choices of folks who wanted to be in those spaces.”
Palasciano said he doesn’t think this spells the end for brick-and-mortar bookstores in Charlotte and across the country.
“I think the Kindle and the iPad have a dramatic, virtually devastating effect on brick-and-mortar businesseses,” he said. “But it’s the experiential bookstore that will remain. It’s the local bookstore that you can walk into and it smells like a book and has unique books and old books and collector’s items. It’s not such a function of the words in the books, which can be printed or downloaded. This creates a unique opportunity for local book enthusiasts to open up these kinds of stores. But the big box bookstores, there time is gone. It’s a thing of the past.”
Cost Plus World Market has another location in Charlotte, at 9557 South Blvd. in the Carolina Pavillion shopping center. The store also has locations in Mooresville and Matthews.
As a resident, broker and retail analyst, Palasciano said he’s excited for the new World Market.
“It plays into the lifestyle mix of the area,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool store. They sell all sorts of stuff, anything from home furnishings to specialty foods and artisan things you might not be able to find on your typical grocery store shelf. I think that it really lends itself well to Cotswold, since most people would normally have to drive all the way to out to Matthews or down to Pineville to shop at those type of stores.”
Cary Beale, leasing agent for Cotswold Village Shops, could not be reached for comment.