A Barnes & Noble store in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2021. The retail chain plans to open its second Maine location in Brunswick this summer. Tali Arbel / AP file photo

Barnes & Noble is starting a new chapter in Brunswick.

The country’s largest retail bookseller is opening a store in Merrymeeting Plaza in the space formerly occupied by Famous Footwear, according to Nick Margitza, director of leasing for WS Management, which operates the plaza. The roughly 7,000-square-foot space is located between Bed Bath & Beyond, which last month was scheduled for closure, and PetSmart.

The bookstore is expected to open in late July or early August, according to Jeanine Flanagan, Barnes & Noble’s director of store planning and design. It will be the chain’s second Maine location, joining the one in Augusta.

“Maine is an underserved market for us,” Flanagan said. “(Brunswick) is an exciting location.”

It will be the town’s first national bookseller since Borders closed about 10 years ago in a space also at Merrymeeting Plaza.

Flanagan said it’s part of a new strategy for Barnes & Noble under CEO James Daunt, who was hired in 2019 when the New York-based hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. purchased the beleaguered bookseller. At that time, Barnes & Noble was reeling from competition with Amazon and had closed dozens of stores, a fall from its peak in the early 2010s when it operated some 700 stores across the country, according to The Associated Press. The company, however, opened 16 new stores in the United States in 2022 and plans to open 30 more in 2023.


Flanagan said sales shot up during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were forced inside and had little to do but read.

“Our existing stores and new stores have been very successful,” said Flanagan, who added the company does not disclose sales figures.

She said the new stores are run more like independent bookshops, as opposed to the “corporate-driven” philosophy of the past.

“This is a brand-new model,” Flanagan said. “Each of the booksellers that run the shops … they are picking and choosing what to display for local interest. This is a very big change.”

In addition to books, the Brunswick store will sell educational toys and games, Flanagan said, adding there will not be a café like those featured at other Barnes & Noble locations.

“It’s a great addition to the area,” said Debora King, executive director of the Brunswick Downtown Association. “(Merrymeeting Plaza) has experienced a lot of vacancies, but slowly, it’s coming back.”

She said there is room for Barnes & Noble alongside local booksellers like Gulf of Maine Books, which opened in 1979, and the nonprofit Twice-Told Tales, whose sales benefit Curtis Memorial Library.

“A rising tide raises all ships,” King said. “(Barnes & Noble) is an additional attraction to the community of Brunswick.”

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