Here’s some bad news for everyone on Maui who likes to read: Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore on the island–and the only one that specializes in new books–will close its only Maui location in Lahaina at the end of the year.
December will mark the end of Barnes & Noble’s 10-year lease at the Lahaina Gateway Center. Though the bookseller apparently wanted to stay, the lender that controls the center (it was repossessed some time ago) would not negotiate a new lease, store officials said.
“It hasn’t even settled in,” said store manager Cindy Mauricio, who just found out the other day that the store will close. “Sales are excellent. This has nothing to do with the community. We are part of this community, and we’ve been supported by this community.”
For the last decade, the store has provided Maui residents and visitors with a comfortable place to find a large selection of new books, magazines, movies, music and toys. They’ve hosted innumerable community events and book-signings (including a couple for yours truly) and generally just make life out here a bit more intelligent and thoughtful.
Moving the store to another part of Maui is a possibility, but it would apparently take a year or two to do so. While the outlook certainly looks bleak for the store, there’s always the possibility that a significant outpouring of support from the community will light a fire under Barnes & Noble corporate management to fight for it.
If the thought of losing Maui’s only large bookstore fills you with dread, then tell Barnes & Noble management. Go online to the Customer Support page and or call them at 1-800-THE-BOOK (843-2665).
For her part, Mauricio is still telling store employees that the store is closing. “It’s heart-wrenching that we won’t have our bookstore anymore,” she said.
UPDATE, Oct. 23: According to a spokesperson for The Festival Companies, which is the property management company* for the Lahaina Gateway Center, the decision to close Barnes & Noble in Lahaina is the responsibility of the bookstore chain’s corporate management, not the shopping center.
“Barnes & Noble Corporate made the decision to close its location at Lahaina Gateway Center and not to pursue a new long-term lease,” said Louise Lumague of Gilbert & Associates, which handles PR for Festival, in an Oct. 23 email. “Festival has no further comments. Please contact Barnes and Noble corporate offices for additional information.”
Barnes & Noble’s corporate office in New York has yet to respond to a call for comment.
* This story originally mischaracterized the relationship between Lahaina Gateway Center and The Festival Companies.
Photo: Sean M. Hower