Monday, March 21, 2011

Cruising the Boulevard

Life along the Ventura Highway: The shopping center at the corner of Hayvenhurst Avenue lost its most popular business when the Barnes & Noble bookstore was forced to close at the end of 2010. According to published reports, the bookstore's lease was not renewed because the owner of the shopping center accepted a higher bid from CVS Pharmacy.
Word from the neighbors was that Barnes & Noble had tried to negotiate with the owner but to no avail. The last book was sold in the store on Dec. 31.
Since then, the building has been dark, with its windows painted black. There is a sign out front that says the pharmacy is coming to Encino. It was noted by the community relations manager of the bookstore that there are 20 pharmacies in a two-square mile radius of the new CVS store. I guess drugs sell better than books. Or do they?
Since the bookstore closed, the shopping center's spacious parking, which was always full most days, especially on the weekends, has been nearly half empty since Barnes & Noble left. The other businesses, which include a Hallmark store, a bank, a restaurant and a small dress shop, must be feeling the pinch, which has to hurt more than normal because of the recession.
Even the Starbucks attached to the bookstore's old building isn't as crowded as it once was.
Did Rick Caruso, the developer of the shopping center, bite off more than he could chew? As my grandfather used to say, were his eyes bigger than his stomach?
A friend of mine who knows Caruso says he's a guy who gets what he wants. Maybe he's betting against the pharmacy's success. I doubt that when CVS opens its doors that all the people that used to shop at Barnes & Noble are going to come streaming back to fill up that end of the parking lot, especially when there are two CVS pharmacies within a mile of the new one, and a very popular Walgreen's just down the street at the corner of Woodley Avenue.
As most readers know, sometimes a good book is a much better prescription for what ails us.

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