Nice Price Books’ Carrboro location to close

Feb. 11, 2013 @ 06:35 PM

Due to falling prices, declining demand and other factors, the owners of Nice Price Books are closing their Carrboro store in March. The used books, music and video store has been in operation for more than 26 years.

The owners are planning to liquidate the store’s inventory. Their other locations on Broad Street in Durham near Duke University’s East Campus and on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh will stay open.

Cindy Kamoroff, who co-owns the business with her husband, Barry Blanchette, said there “definitely was a heyday” for the business in general, but she said the Durham and Raleigh locations haven’t had as large a business drop-off as the Carrboro store.

“It’s a younger population, and a smaller population, maybe quicker to adapt to electronic media,” Kamoroff said.

Chapel Hill resident Joan Carroll, however, shopping at the store on Monday, will miss it.

She said she loves to read, and has been coming to Nice Price Books in Carrboro for 17 of the 18 years she’s lived in Chapel Hill. She said she likes the diversity of books that they offer.

“I like a good novel – that’s what I come here for,” she said. “I’m so sad they’re closing.”

Kamoroff said they’ve seen impacts from online sales on websites like Amazon.com, where customers can sell as well as buy used books. The store has also been impacted by competition from electronic music, movies and books, she said.

“I guess it probably, the whole general thing started with online used book sales with Amazon, because in general, the wide availability of used books brought the prices down overall,” she said. “Over time, (it) gradually eroded, probably starting, I would say, I guess I would say the early-to-mid 2000s,” she added.

The store in Carrboro opened in 1986 in the space that now houses Cat’s Cradle, Kamoroff said. They bought and moved to the former mill house where the store is now at 100 Boyd St. to avoid rising rental rates, she said.

Merchandise will be discounted at the Carrboro location, according to a news release, before the store closes the second week of March.

Back Alley Bikes, a service-oriented bicycle shop in Chapel Hill, is moving into the location. Owner Jason Merrill said they’re buying the building, and hope to open there in the beginning of April.

“I’m honored to be considered a worthy torch bearer (to) Nice Price,” he said.

Kamoroff said the hope is the Nice Price Books locations in Raleigh and Durham locations sustain, but she said it’s “hard to prognosticate on that one.”

“It sort of just depends on what people decide is important to them; it really depends on the people more than us,” she said.

Kamoroff added that in addition to the impacts from the internet, the Carrboro store has been impacted by a sidewalk closing near the store as a result of construction on the 300 East Main Street development.

The start of the five-building, mixed-use project was delayed as a result of the economy, but construction on the first phase launched last year. The first phase includes a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel with retail and restaurant space on the first floor, as well as 500 spaces in a parking deck.

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen first gave their approval in 2008.

Laura Van Sant, a partner in the master project developer Main Street Properties, said it took longer than planned to get financing in place after the recession.

She said the project, which has two more phases, is expected to be finished within three years. One phase will include the demolition of the buildings that house the ArtsCenter and Cat’s Cradle, which Van Sant said are planned to be moved into redeveloped space in the project.

“The idea is to move everybody around in a sequence so nobody is closed down for an extended period of time,” she said.

Kamoroff said she has been supportive of the project, which she said she believed would help business.

“We didn’t know how long it would take, but (we thought) it would be beneficial, to try to stick it out to see if would happen,” she said.

But she also said that as result of the sidewalk closure, customers coming from Carrboro have had to cross the street in order to get to the store. She also said the development has also brought construction traffic.

“It’s always hard to know what is going to keep people away or not,” she said.

Van Sant said the sidewalk was required to be closed, and development officials met with town and transportation officials to try to work out other options, such as a covered walkway, but there was not enough room for one.

 “It’s like everything else – there’s trade offs,” she said. “When it’s all done, I think the impact will be nothing but positive. I certainly recognize during construction, there’s definitely some inconveniences and hardships for people.”