Bookstore returns to Jonesboro after closing in 2020.

Delta Digital News Service

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024

By Avery Jones | Editor

JONESBORO, Ark. – The long-awaited grand opening for the new Barnes & Noble bookstore was held in Jonesboro on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jonesboro has been without the chain bookstore for four years, ever since the former Barnes & Noble in the Turtle Creek Mall was destroyed by a tornado in March 2020.

In 2020, Barnes & Noble announced that it wouldn’t be returning anytime soon to Jonesboro because of the unfavorable economic climate. Store business was destroyed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the company stated that they would search for alternative locations when “normal retail conditions return.”

A few small locally owned bookstores such as Verb Bookstore in Jonesboro, Weber’s Book House in Paragould, and Eclectic Geekery in Walnut Ridge popped up during Barnes & Noble absence. While many people missed Barnes & Noble with its large selection and variety, Northeast Arkansas didn’t suffer a lack for literature.

Haag Brown Commercial stated in January 2023 that Barnes & Noble was slated to return soon. They had closed a deal on the former Pier 1 building. Originally, the opening was planned for November 2023. However, due to delays in construction, it was pushed back until February.

Hundreds of customers packed the store during the grand opening. The new venue possess many of the features of big box stores are known for including signature coffee shops such as Starbucks.

Ella McMasters, 13, Barnes & Noble patron

Thirteen-year-old Ella McMasters, a book lover who used to shop at the Barnes & Noble in the Turtle Creek Mall, was enthusiastic about the bookstore opening again. When the bookstore wasn’t around, she would go to the library for books.

“I’m super excited because there’s some books here that wouldn’t normally be at the library…” McMasters said.

“I’m super excited because there’s some books here that wouldn’t normally be at the library…”

Ella McMaster, Barnes & Noble shopper

Another shopper, Solicia Little, was there with her son Jordan Wilson. She said they had missed Barnes & Noble and had been waiting for a while for its return. When it was gone, they mainly shopped at Target for their books.

Solicia Little (right) and Jordan Wilson (left), patrons

“We’ve been waiting, we’d drive by every so often and kind of peep. When I saw all the cars today, I was like, Yes, they’re open, we’ve got to go!” Little said.

Linda Vinson, a frequent patron of the former Barnes & Noble before it closed, also missed the bookstore. She shopped at Target for her books as well after Barnes & Noble closed. She also went to the Barnes & Noble in Little Rock sometimes.

“That’s why everybody’s here today,” Vinson said. “We all missed it. A college town without a bookstore, I mean, what’s up with that?”

Chris Bolick, the store manager, has worked with Barnes & Noble for six years. According to him, the process of getting the store ready was a year in the making and took about three weeks after the store was ready to prepare it for opening. 

“Once COVID passed, they had always wanted to come back to this community ever since the tornado, so when the opportunity came up, Barnes and Noble jumped on it,” Bolick said.


Avery Jones is a junior in the Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She can be reached at: [email protected]