Friday, December 12, 2008

Left Bank Books Now Open!

In a day and age of Amazon, Borders, Wal-Mart, Kindles and other competition for your book-buying dollar, the intrepid souls at Left Bank Books have opened their new store downtown, at 10th and Locust.

While the economy and the market for book retailers are both tough, fortunately, LoftWorks' Craig Heller is providing Left Bank's 6,000 sf space rent free for three years, giving the store time to achieve profitability. I had a chance to check out the store on its first day in business, and it is fantastic. The space is loft-like, with huge windows. Employees were still hard at work stocking the shelves, so I look forward to stopping back in next week, when the store is fully up and running.

From the St. Louis Beacon:

Heller...hopes the addition of a book store will add to the fledgling neighborhood's "walkable" atmosphere. He said he likes the fact that the shop will be an independent one, too, he said, rather than a chain.

"When you walk in, you're going to know the people behind the counter, and they're going to know you," Heller said. "You don't get that in a 30,000-square-foot store."

This is an extremely important - and exciting - development for downtown. A bookstore is something the downtown retail scene has been sorely lacking since the Waldenbooks in St. Louis Centre and the B. Dalton in Union Station both shuttered.

Now that we have our bookstore, what's next? What other retailers does downtown need at this point? Personally, I'm hoping for a Walgreen's. Boring, yes, but needed.


Anonymous said...

Walgreens, yes, but no retail clinic. There's such a thing as too much competition. If the recently opened Minute Clinic (Nurse Practioners) and the soon to open Downtown Urgent Care (boarded physicians) get chased outta the market by Walgreens, then we'll not have achieved anything by opening a Walgreens. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, results in a net zero gain for Downtown. Schnucks (when it opens in May) will have a pharmacy, so tell me, why do we need a Walgreens Downtown when there are still only 12,000 loft residents? The people need to move here first, then the businesses, but only if they aren't going to chase other businesses into bankruptcy.

Brian said...

A Walgreens would serve a lot more than just loft residents. With a daytime population of 80,000-90,000 office workers as well as tourists, conventioneers and other visitors, there's a substantial potential market for such a store. Walgreens is also easily identifiable to anyone visiting downtown from outside the St. Louis area and would be an easy place for tourists/visitors to get prescriptions filled and pick up any essential items. Most out-of-towners would not think to go to Schnucks, but the Walgreens name/brand is ubiquitous. There are also lots of other items besides prescription and OTC drugs that Walgreens sells that are hard to get anywhere else downtown.
I wouldn't want a downtown Walgreens to have a walk-in clinic for the reasons you mentioned. The square footage limitations of a downtown store would likely make that difficult anyway.
Not too long ago, downtown successfully accommodated TWO Walgreens stores - one in St. Louis Centre, the other in the Century Building. And that was before the influx of residents. There's no doubt in my mind that a new store would do very well here and not push anyone out of business.

Dr. Danielle said...

There are currently plans to put a Walgreens across the street from the old city hospital residential development, near the entrance ramps to I-55 and I-44 at the end of Truman. Although everywhere else in the land Walgreens has a store on every corner, I don't know if they will consider putting two stores that close together.... at least not anytime soon.

Brian said...

Yeah, I think that particular location will be great for people who live in Soulard, Lafayette Square, Fox Park, etc., but it really can't be considered a downtown location. We need one that downtown residents, workers, and visitors can walk to!