Barnes & Noble leaving Ulster store, seeking new location

(Photos by Will Dendis)

The Ulster Barnes & Noble was doing steady business on a recent sunny afternoon. A group of teens sat in the café discussing their teachers, lone masked customers browsed the latest hardcovers, while parents did their best to corral their children in the games and kids’ sections.

In some ways it seemed like a normal day, but it wasn’t. The week before, the news had broke that the store would be closing at that location and its future in Ulster County was uncertain. Management posted a sign addressing the topic and providing the limited amount of information available for the moment, but staff were still steadily peppered with questions from regulars. Why is this location closing? Where could the store move? Are staff looking for new jobs?

“We have truly enjoyed serving our customers from this location for the past 16 years and appreciate their loyalty and support,” read a statement from Barnes & Noble provided by Amelia Mulinder, senior manager of corporate communications. “However, the landlord wanted to go a different direction with the space and chose not to renew the lease.”

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Burlington Coat Factory, currently located about a half-mile to the north, will be taking over the space occupied by Barnes & Noble for the last 16 years.

The last decade has been tough for the big box stores that sprawl along Route 9W in Ulster, just north of Kingston. Feeling the pinch from online shopping, many large retail stores that formerly had locations Kingston/Ulster and Poughkeepsie/Wappingers have opted to consolidate their Mid-Hudson presence in the latter, a more populous area. Apparently that isn’t the plan for Barnes & Noble. Town of Ulster Building Inspector Warren Tutt said the store has “made it abundantly clear that they want to stay in the area.”

He imagines that Barnes & Noble will “take a slightly smaller space” when relocating.

“We have quite a few vacant spaces they can have,” said Tutt.

Tutt said that lately he’s seen a number of stores downsizing, mentioning Old Navy’s 2019 move from the Hudson Valley Mall to Kings Mall.

“In the forefront of all of this online shopping, having large spaces doesn’t make sense to them,” said Tutt.

In fact, Burlington had already downsized in its 1375 Ulster Avenue location, moving its back wall up to minimize the square footage. According to Tutt, Burlington has received its necessary approvals to move into the 1177 Ulster Avenue, 24,636-square-feet space now occupied by Barnes & Noble. Tutt said there is a six-month timeline for Burlington to relocate.

The news has been greeted with a variety of reactions in the community, as witnessed in various social media postings. Many seemed sad and resigned, fearing that the store would not find a new location and Barnes & Noble would take its place with JC Penney, Macy’s, Sears, and Best Buy in the list of departed stores, further contributing to a hollowed out feeling in this area of the county; “Soon Kingston will have nothing left.” For others, the potential loss of another corporate retail store was nothing to shed a tear over; they pointed out the area had several locally-owned independent bookstores worthy of support.

Barnes & Noble urged its customers to visit the Poughkeepsie location while it searches for another location in Kingston.

The corporate office of Burlington could not be reached for comment.

Additional reporting by Will Dendis.

There are 6 comments

  1. gina

    One less thing for our next generation not to engage in, books! Why have books when you can have your face glued to your phone. I loved going into barnes and nobles in kingston to study, look for books, bring my children in to get interested in reading and much more. This is sad…. Out of all the things the one book store has to close. One more reason to leave NY. Most people can’t get to PK to the bookstore.

      1. Robert Swingle

        Thank you Brett! Folks did you know that not only are there books, but music, first run movies, and much more at your local library, all for free. In fact, we all already pay for our public libraries in our taxes and by proxy, with our rents. Please go and re-experience your public library you won’t believe what you’ve been missing.

  2. David A Channon

    The Malls are going away. Online shopping has replaced it. Basing our economy on “shopping” was always a dead end. Each new mall kills the one before it… and if you’ve seen one mall, you’ve seen ’em all. We must find a better use for these spaces. A health center is opening in the old Macy’s. That kind of thinking will work.

  3. Paul

    It is a real shame how our shortsighted, greedy “conservatives” stagnated and drove the upstate NY economy into the ground. There are towns and cities all over the state all but dead from the myopic xenophobic bigoted stupidity of the generations with money and power now. I live in Zena both of the schools are dead. Sudbury is open but it never catered to locals. Look around. What went so horrifically wrong here that people literally drove their own kids away forcing them to seek a living elsewhere? I pass a large dead public school with a for sale sign on it every day and I think, “What happened? Where did the families and children go?” I look around and I see nothing but a wealthy, dying geriatric population with harsh, shortsighted, wrong-headed, counterproductive, right wing views and many of them costumed as”liberals”, “liberal hawks”, hippies, feminists or creative types. Why have these problems been building for decades? Who ran all the children away turning my community into the afterlife waiting room for rich people? Why are so many other upstate towns and cities dead or dying. The answer lays clearly with the criminal, racist, shortsighted and egregious mismanagement of government and business by a #GeorgeOrwellParty and their confused so called “conservative” dupes. Certain folks had it all already. They didn’t want other folks to have anything. They felt that other folks having anything even if it was lesser or equal detracted from their connived and ill gotten wealth and power. That I think is the source of the problem in the bigger picture.The reason we have bled off so many businesses is the same reason the kids were run off. Confused, degenerate and evil “conservatism” whose ultimate goal is a violent, racist, fascist, totalitarian, oppresive, neo feudal police state in a state of perpetual war with a huge percentage of its GDP being bled off to feed foreign oil powers. Maybe Tech City,, Gander, Michaels, Macy’s, JCPenny, Olive Garden the movie theater, and Barnes and Noble will come back but if that happens it won’t be because of how the old “conservatives” were doing things, it will be because we are doing something different.

    1. Government is not your friend

      NY is a one-party state and it isn’t conservative. It’s DEEP BLUE, just like Commiefornia. Cuomo’s in his third term. What has he done for NYS? Oh yeah, Solyndra, Buffalo Billion, etc. Continuing with the positivity, he built a bridge and named it after his father and vastly reduced the amount of elderly on the government teat. I think he wrote a book about it.

      There aren’t too many conservatives left in NY. They’ve all moved to states where taxes, corruption and government reach are way lower. I hope the liberals stay. Someone has to man this sinking, stinking ship.

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