The co-owner of the Politics and Prose bookstore in upper Northwest D.C. said he will “definitely look at the possibility” of opening a store in Bethesda in light of Friday’s announcement that Barnes & Noble in Bethesda Row will close at the end of the year.
Bethesda resident Bradley Graham, who co-owns Politics and Prose with his wife, Lissa Muscatine, said Friday the couple has been considering opening another store somewhere in the Washington, D.C., area. However, he said “it’s far from certain that we would end up being able to open a branch” in Bethesda because of the proximity to the couple’s D.C. store at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, which is about 3 miles from downtown Bethesda.
Graham said he was “saddened, but not surprised” by the closing of the Barnes & Noble’s store. He said it’s always disappointing to see brick-and-mortar bookstores shut down—whether they are independents or chains—but he knows the Barnes & Noble company has faced difficulties in recent years.
The news about Barnes & Noble drew dismay from local shoppers and residents who lament the closure of the bookstore, which has long served as a gathering place in downtown Bethesda.
A change.org petition asking Federal Realty to keep Barnes & Noble in Bethesda gathered 2,588 signatures by 3:20 p.m. Monday. Supporters promised to boycott the next business to occupy the space.
Dan Corwin, Federal Realty’s director of asset management, wrote in a statement that Barnes & Noble would be leaving Bethesda Row at the end of its lease despite the response from the community.
“As it relates to the community’s reaction, we are thankful for each and every person invested in loving this place as much as we do and for all of the outreach we have received,” he wrote. “Barnes and Noble is a trusted partner of Federal Realty’s and has been for 20 years. We worked side by side with them over the last year to find a solution that would mutually benefit everyone—the community included—but unfortunately were not able to, and they will be leaving at the beginning of 2018.”
On Monday, County Council President Roger Berliner said it’s possible another bookstore could open in the downtown area.
“Federal Realty did say to me that they are working very hard to bring a bookseller to Bethesda,” Berliner said. “They recognize its value, too.”