September 19, 2021

Barnes & Noble’s closure marks end of chapter

Crystal Lake resident Nancy Bell remembers when the city’s Barnes and Noble first opened.

“I was so excited,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is good, this is perfect.’ ”

When she walked in the Barnes and Noble this past Saturday, though, the reality of the store closing hit her.

“When I pulled in I thought, gosh, do they even have anything in there?” Bell said. “It looked desolate.”

The Barnes and Noble on 5380 Route 14 officially closed Saturday.

There were still books in the store as of Saturday afternoon, but there were also many empty bookshelves, and the music section was almost wiped out. Various fixtures, such as bookshelves and tables, were on sale as well.

“It’s very, very sad,” Bell said. “Of course there’s more Barnes and Nobles, but why does it have to leave Crystal Lake?”

Jose Prado of Crystal Lake came to the store with his family, including his 5-year-old son, Lucas, who excitedly told his dad about a new book he picked out.

“My kids like reading, so they’re kind of sad,” Prado said. “We always come here. It’s kind of like a family thing.”

Sam and Mary Mondello’s daughter, whose pen name is Sarah Natale, got her start as an author at this Barnes and Noble, giving several presentations on her book.

“They were very good to her here,” Sam Mondello said. “She’s always been a writer, but this place really helped her ... they called her and said, ‘We want to put your book in our store.’ ”

Mary Mondello said she feels sorry for the community and “all the book lovers.”

Austin O’Connor of Crystal Lake has been taking his son Lawrence, 3, to the Crystal Lake Barnes and Nobles location since Lawrence was born.

While his son was a little too young to understand the store is going to be closing, he did notice something was different, O’Connor said.

“He kept saying, ‘Oh, look’ (at empty bookshelves),” O’Connor said. “He was asking where the train table was.”

O’Connor said he and Lawrence spent time on Friday creating some final memories. When they left, they took one last selfie together, as this was something they always did when they went to the bookstore.

Other Barnes and Noble locations are in West Dundee at Spring Hill Mall, 1468 Spring Hill Mall Blvd., and Deer Park at 20600 N. Rand Road.

A Binny’s Beverage Depot is expected to move into the building.

O’Connor said that when he talked to employees, they said it is sad to see a place “where children can come and read and make memories” turn into “just another liquor store.”

Ed Breur of Crystal Lake doesn’t like the idea of the store becoming a Binny’s.

“You take the bookstore away from kids, and you replace it with the opposite,” he said.

A Barnes and Noble employee said it was against company policy for employees to comment.

A representative for Barnes and Noble was not immediately available for comment.