Book Market to set up shop

Discounter to open 4 temporary stores, 2 at old Bibelot sites

October 19, 2001|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

The Book Market, a discount bookseller based in Knoxville, Tenn., will open four temporary stores in Maryland this fall, including two in former Bibelot bookstores.

The privately held chain, which runs stores around the country on a short-term basis, will open Nov. 1 in former Bibelot bookstores in Canton and Pikesville, where they will operate at least through January, David Hinkle, president of the chain, said yesterday.

Temporary stores also will open in Bel Air by the middle of next month and in Gaithersburg on Oct. 25.

The chain, which takes temporary space as it is and sells books off flat tables at discounts of up to 80 percent, usually leases space for 90 days with an option to extend the time. Some stores stay open up to 150 days, while a few stay permanently, Hinkle said. During the course of a year, the company operates about 80 temporary stores.

Hinkle said the length of the lease "is driven by customers liking what we're doing and whether the real estate is still available. We typically lease very good real estate."

The chain has moved into several former Super Crown bookstore locations, including some in Annapolis, Bowie and Waldorf, where the Book Market has been for five or six months and will stay at least through the end of the year, Hinkle said. The chain has been negotiating to stay permanently in some former Crown stores around the country, although the company remains focused on being a temporary tenant, a growing segment of the retail industry.

Staying on permanently in the Maryland locations is a "distinct possibility," Hinkle said. "The way we like to work with the landlord is we do a short-term lease and get to the end of the road. If anything transcends beyond the original agreement, that's good for all of us. That is a possibility, but it's not how we approach our business."

The chain also operates 101 permanent stores in factory outlet centers under the name Book Warehouse.

Canton plans

The Book Market will lease the full 17,000 square feet of the former Bibelot in the American Can Co. complex in Canton, sharing space with One World Cafe Express, in space formerly run by Donna's coffee bar and restaurant.

The One World Cafe will be a scaled-down version of the One World Cafes on South Charles Street and University Parkway in Baltimore, serving coffee, pastries, bagels, sandwiches and soups, said co-owner Victor Ganderson. The cafe, which seats about 50, is also on a temporary lease with the possibility of becoming permanent.

"They gave us an excellent deal on the space, and it's a win-win for both of us," Ganderson said of American Can Co. developer Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc.

"There's no better community hangout than a bookstore," said developer C. William Struever. "We're excited about having books back. We're hopeful short-term can become long-term with either Book Market or two other operators we're talking to."

Besides talking with booksellers, Struever said he is talking with several cafe operators about leasing permanently.

The Book Market will also move into 20,000 square feet formerly occupied by Bibelot in the Woodholme Center in Pikesville and share the space with Donna's, which had operated with Bibelot and has stayed open.

The Book Market is subleasing from Rite Aid Corp., which has a long-term lease on the space, for 90 days. "We don't have any concrete plans beyond that," said Sarah Datz, a Rite Aid spokeswoman. "Our desire is for a long-term tenant at that location. We would like to get a bookstore in there."

Bibelot, an upscale chain and homegrown success story, closed its four Baltimore-area stores last summer after filing for bankruptcy protection in March. Loyal Bibelot customers will find a different atmosphere with the Book Market, the nation's largest close-out bookseller, which buys from all major publishers in the U.S.

The T.J. Maxx of books

"The analogy is if you consider Borders and Barnes & Noble the Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, we're the T.J. Maxx and the Marshall's," both apparel discounters, Hinkle said. "You'll find fantastic values on books that may be 90 to 180 days old. What you won't find is something that was released last week and is on The New York Times best-seller list."

Hinkle said shoppers can expect a wide selection, from hardback fiction to travel to computers to children's books to religion and self-help.

"Typically, when we go into a former bookstore location, we do very well because there's an established traffic pattern of the bookseller there before us," he said.

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