by Aimee Levitt
Update June 29 -- We heard back from Sue's News owner Rich Bannecker. You can read his comments about the closing after the jump.
Original post from June 28: Sue's News, one of the finest newsstands in the St. Louis area (and one of the few remaining since Borders went out of business), will be closing up shop sometime next month. Previously located in downtown Kirkwood, the store moved to the Galleria two years ago.
Its owners posted this message to its website last night:
We miss you already! We hope that you'll come by and greet us before we go. For the benefit of our customers, we are offering 40% OFF the cover/original price of all books, cards, and toys! Snacks, drinks, and magazines are still regular price. Thank you SO MUCH for being a patron and a FRIEND of Sue's News! We appreciate everything you've done for us.
Daily RFT has a call in to the owners; we'll update this post as soon as we have more information.
Update: "We weren't making money," Bannecker says simply. "It's a tough industry."
Like many bookstores that have gone under in recent years, Sue's News found Amazon too formidable an opponent. "Their model is low margin, high volume which is difficult for a brick and mortar store, particularly an independent, to deal with," Bannecker explains. "They built a better tool. It worked for them. It's bad for the rest of us."
The store's other problem, though, was its landlord, General Growth Properties, which owns the Galleria.
"We moved there because we thought we'd get more traffic," says Bannecker. "Sometimes you make a plan that doesn't work. But this is the first time someone has said to me, 'Screw you, we'll do what we want.' It's the only time in my professional career I felt that someone dealt with me in a way that wasn't honest."
Soon after Sue's News moved into the Galleria, General Growth Properties informed Bannecker that it was relocating the store's storage space to make room for the new post office. The new storage area was, in Bannecker's words, "unusable." It was downstairs from the shop, and it was too small to hold much inventory, particularly the gift items Bannecker was hoping to sell in order to make his store more profitable. The landlord did reduce the rent after Bannecker threatened to leave, but that didn't help the storage problem.
Bannecker will be all right -- the newsstand was a sideline for his other career in the computer consulting business. ("Like people who like books, I wanted to open a store. So I did. And now I wish I hadn't.") But he's concerned for his employees who had no other source of income.
"Independent bookstores are a tough sell," he says. "Tony LaRussa always said that he was going to open one when he retires. But I guess he's not going to do that now."