Berkeley Place resident hopes email campaign can save Barnes & Noble store

Posted Monday, Sep. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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To Debra Million, there’s nothing like turning the pages of a book. But now she’s afraid it will be hard for her to buy them.

So after Barnes & Noble announced plans on Sept. 6 to close its store in University Park Village at year’s end, the Berkeley Place resident sent an email to about 350 neighbors asking them to write Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust, which owns the shopping center, to try to save the bookstore.

“It’s depressing to think that our city of over a half-million people will have one bookstore,” said Million, who spent a lot of time at the store with her two daughters, now ages 20 and 16.

She said Glimcher would be “cutting out the heart” of the shopping center if it loses Barnes & Noble.

“I don’t think they want to be bad neighbors,” Million said of Glimcher. But, she said, “The bookstore draws shoppers there. The part of the parking lot closest to the bookstore, it’s hard to find a parking spot. We want to keep our bookstore.”

A Barnes & Noble executive said recently it decided to close the store just south of Interstate 30 on University Drive because the landlord wants to raise its rent too much. The executive also said Glimcher officials have told them they want to divide the store into smaller spaces for other retailers.

Million’s email request has been forwarded to nearby neighborhood associations and others from her Facebook page. She said she has no idea how far it has spread and hasn’t heard from Glimcher.

Jessi Fausett, Glimcher’s marketing director, did not return a call Friday seeking comment on the email campaign. Glimcher bought University Park Village in January. Barnes & Noble has had a store there since 1995.

In 2010, the last time Barnes & Noble threatened to close, Million participated in a similar letter-writing campaign. The bookstore ultimately negotiated a new lease with the shopping center’s then owner.

Bookstore chains have come under pressure in recent years from e-commerce sites, led by Amazon.com, and the growth of e-books. Six area Borders bookstores closed in 2011 when that company went out of business.

In addition to the University Park location, Barnes & Noble also plans to close its two-story store in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square at year’s end. Other Tarrant County stores — at Hulen Mall, the Parks at Arlington and Southlake Town Square — would remain open.

So far, we’re unaware of any effort to save the downtown location.

Williams Trew sues Dallas real estate firm

Williams Trew in Fort Worth is suing Briggs Freeman in Dallas, accusing the real estate firm of infringing on its Sotheby’s International Realty territory in Fort Worth.

The suit, filed Friday in state district court in Tarrant County, comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed in August by Sotheby’s International against Briggs Freeman for violating its franchise agreement by having agents operating in Fort Worth.

Sotheby’s International Realty is affiliated with the world-renowned auction house and is one of the largest and most prestigious franchisors of real estate brokerages worldwide, the suit says. The brokerage is widely known for its services in the luxury segment of the residential real estate market.

According to both suits, Briggs Freeman’s franchise agreement allows the brokerage to sell properties in Dallas, Arlington and Southlake. But since early 2012, the firm has opened unauthorized real estate offices in Fort Worth, hired agents and operated here.

“Competition in the marketplace is fine so long as it is conducted lawfully,” Martha Williams, a partner in Williams Trew, said in a statement. “We were forced to file this lawsuit due to Briggs Freeman’s refusal to acknowledge Williams Trew’s contractual rights with Sotheby’s International Realty.”

Briggs Freeman, the suit alleges, “set out on a calculated course of conduct specifically designed to interfere with Williams Trew’s relationship with Sotheby’s International Realty and to create mass confusion in the marketplace.”

Robert Briggs, Briggs Freeman president and CEO, said in a statement that his firm does not have a Fort Worth office, and that its agents work out of offices that have been approved through contracts with Sotheby’s International. He said his agents are licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission and can list and sell properties anywhere in Texas.

“In the same way our competitors operate freely in the Fort Worth market, we are also able to do so as long as we conduct business from the five offices that have been approved by Sotheby’s International Realty in our agreement,” he said. “We are working to resolve our issues in this matter with Sotheby’s International Realty and hope we are able to do the same with Williams Trew Sotheby’s International Realty.”

The agency is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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