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Back to the Future?

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Retail industry insiders are noticing an unexpected shift: smaller, independent booksellers have begun to prosper now that the big-box operators are struggling. An article in Fortune makes the case that some of the Waldenbooks spaces could be backfilled by the independents.

The mom-and-pop operators would also make a good fit for college campus Borders, helping both bridge the gap in bricks-and-mortar bookselling and provide laid off Borders staffers with potential new jobs.

In fact, we hear that independent booksellers do seem to be making a comeback. Booksellers now frequently become "incubator" tenants at malls and shopping centers, according to executives with Levin Management Corp., a third party property management provider. And because of their smaller inventory and often niche offering, they are able to find more success with shoppers than the sprawling mega-boxes that can feel overwhelming, notes Jeff Green, a retail real estate consultant.

We'd be curious to know what the property owners and managers out there think. Are independent bookstores the way of the future?

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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