Mourning the Loss of Reston's Barnes & Noble

A local mom mourns the loss of a favorite little kids' and parents' hang out spot - Barnes and Noble

As a local mother of young children, I am sad that Barnes & Noble is leaving the Reston Spectrum.

In general I am excited about the changes coming to Reston — the metro arriving, the buildings around Town Center going up (and bringing a grocery store!), and the construction of the new apartments on Temporary Road.  We moved here for the walk-ability of the area, so to see more options for walking opening up is exciting.  

Walking is important for me and my family since I don’t drive due to having epilepsy, and this area is great for the walking conveniences. Though I average only about one seizure a year, it’s safer to never risk it by driving — especially since we have kids. So, five years ago we settled on North Reston as a place to live. And we have no regrets.

Ever since my boys were tiny we’ve been walking them to Barnes & Noble. I love the Reston library, but compared to the library storytime, Barnes & Noble’s storytime is much more accessible and kid-friendly. Usually the staff members who do storytime clearly love and have experience with children and have reasonable expectations for their behavior. So what if a 1 year old is toddling around by the storyteller’s chair, some 3-year-olds are playing with the trains, or a kid occasionally goes up front to see a picture better. Big deal. They’re kids! It happens. The librarians I’ve come across are not so flexible, but Barnes & Noble does storytime the way it should be done.  

Barnes & Noble is where the writing group I have been a part of meets once a month. Authors visit the store.  Storytime is twice every week- Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are often fundraisers for different groups like the Herndon High marching band or Rachel Carson Middle School. The store has a small town, community meeting-place feel to it. And now it’s leaving.

I am not privy to the real reason(s) that it is closing. I read that the owner of Spectrum Center refused to renew the lease. I’ve heard that they will not be relocating, but that they are going out of business. I know that traditional bookstores in general are becoming rather extinct thanks to internet book sellers available to everyone, but I still have found it hard to swallow.

Barnes & Noble has been a place I can take my boys within easy walking distance when the outside weather is either too hot or too cold to play in. We curl up on a chair or on the little stage in the children’s section, and visit friends such as Olivia, Cat in the Hat, Spot, and Curious George, and no matter the weather outside and no matter the fact that we have some of the same books at home, the boys are getting out of the house and doing something different. They lovei t, I love it. It might not seem like much, but moms and dads of little ones know how valuable even a short break from the house is.

I’ve taken my boys to storytime the past two weeks and, I’m going to admit it, both times I’ve gotten choked up looking at all the empty shelves and folded-up shelving. I feel a little like Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail. I want to twirl around the sad shelves to slow music as I bravely let tears fall down my face. Instead my boys and I have enjoyed storytime and then the three of us have snuggled up in a heap of scarves and hats and coats and mittens on the floor by the Superheroes shelves where we’ve read books until our stomachs yelled for lunch.  

Maybe the new buildings going up in Spectrum Center will manage to attract a bookstore whenever they are completed. But I am heartbroken to see our community bookstore, the only bookstore that sells new books in Reston, close its doors.

I have a feeling the incoming Container Store will not welcome my boys and me stomping in the door and camping out on the floor reading stories for an hour. It won’t host writing groups or school fundraisers. It won’t have a LEGO blocks table or a train table around which parents can meet other parents. Certainly no one will be hiding in the containers to read stories and share crayons at storytime. (Though maybe they should consider that because it sounds awesome.)

Reston will miss Barnes & Noble.

Like this? Read more about my tales of parenting in the Reston area on my blog: www.dawnwhispersandshouts.blogspot.com   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Goff January 24, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Barnes and Noble was not basically evicted. The store came to the end of its longterm lease. There was a lengthy lease negotiation, and Lerner asked for lease terms that the store could not (or would not) agree to, whether in the form of years (these leases are usually for 10 years) or money (its a free market in commercial real estate - leases go to the business that will pay). While I will miss B & N as much as the next shopper, I think it is funny how the community has basically revised the story to make it seem like poor B & N is a mom-and-pop shop done wrong by the mean landlord. This is a big box store we are talking about. If it wanted to remain in Reston that badly, it would have.
Renee Henning January 24, 2013 at 11:13 PM
There is still the Barnes and Noble in Fair Lakes...12193 Fair Lakes Promenade Dr, Fairfax, VA
Dawn January 25, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Kate, I guess I like to think that a corporation owned by a millionaire (or billionaire?) family would consider things other than the bottom line in a situation like this. The services B&N provides for the community are beyond anything a store full of empty containers can provide. Maybe that kind of thoughtful decision-making about intangibles won't make anyone a millionaire and I'm only wishfully thinking.
reston on my laurels January 25, 2013 at 08:13 PM
B&N is not a non-profit with a mission to entertain children and give moms an outting. If they wished to stay in Reston, they would have stayed in Reston. Simply put, they don't care if your kid liked the train table or you liked to sip your Starbucks (not owned by B&N) in their plush comfy chairs. B&N is not there to provide services to families. They aren't the RCC.
Mildred Cooper January 29, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Very good point. There used to be a very wonderful unique little bookstore in Northpoint shopping center where the ballet school is, and they were pushed out by Barnes and Noble.....


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