Barnes & Noble sets opening date for new Westport store

Photo of Paul Schott

WESTPORT — Barnes & Noble plans to open the doors at its new downtown bookstore at 76 Post Road E. next month.

The company this week confirmed an opening date of Feb. 24, after last month’s announcement of the move. The new 10,000-square-foot location will be about half the size of the store that Barnes & Noble operated for 23 years in the Post Plaza shopping center at 1076 Post Road E.

The new storefront at 76 Post Road E. had been the home of a Restoration Hardware store that operated for about 20 years until its closing last year. From 1916 to 1999, the site had housed the Fine Arts theaters.

“With modern, bespoke shelving and the exceptionally attractive interior of the old Restoration Hardware store with which to work, we expect to have a comparable range of books to the old store,” the company said in a statement. “The main difference is that we will not have an in-store café, at least at the outset of opening. We decided on this given the proximity of other cafes and wishing to keep a full range of toys, games, puzzles and stationery alongside our books.”

About a dozen employees will work at the new store, with “tenured booksellers” relocating from the former location, according to the company.

“I’m very excited about Barnes & Noble moving to the downtown. Westporters are book readers, and they love a good bookstore,” Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a recent interview. “I think being located downtown will draw more people into the downtown area. Hopefully they’ll not just shop at Barnes & Noble, but will also take the opportunity to shop at some of the other stores downtown and maybe even get a bite to eat at one of the great restaurants in that immediate area.”

Downtown Westport has not had a book retailer in more than a decade, although it had been long-served by two Main Street institutions. Remarkable Book Shop operated for more than 30 years until its closing in 1994. Klein’s was based at the lower end of the street for 67 years until its closing in 2004.

The downtown has retained a major literary presence since those stores closed. The Westport Library stands a couple blocks west of 76 Post Road E.

Other neighbors include Anthropologie & Co., across the street at 59 Post Road E., in the mixed-use Bedford Square complex. Anthropologie opened there in 2017 after making its own in-town move, from 1365 Post Road E.

In addition to Westport, Barnes & Noble also has stores in the state in Canton, Danbury, Enfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Manchester, Milford, North Haven, Stamford, Waterbury and West Hartford.; twitter: @paulschott