Plans Filed For Rt. 12A Craft Store

West Lebanon — The story may soon be over for Books-a-Million in the Upper Valley.

The property owner of the West Lebanon bookstore has filed a plan with the Lebanon Planning Department to convert the space into a new Michaels crafts store.

Korpela Family Trust, the owner of Valley Square Shopping Center, which also hosts Wal-Mart and Price Chopper outlets, is seeking to renovate the 20,000-square-foot BAM space to make way for a Michaels store that will sell crafting and home decor supplies, according to the plan.

The filing confirms interest by Michaels in opening a store along the Route 12A commercial corridor, where it has been looking for space, according to commercial real estate brokers. Last year the Irving, Tex.-based company posted ads online to solicit applicants to apply for a store manager position at a West Lebanon location.

A spokeswoman for Michaels, Kiley Rawlins, said in an email she didn’t “have any information to share regarding a new store in West Lebanon at this time.”

The plan on file at city hall did not contain a timeline for when the changes would occur. Korpela did not respond to a request for comment. Redstone Investments, the Youngstown, Ohio-based real estate firm that manages the property, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Employees at BAM’s West Lebanon store said they were not aware of any plans for the store to close. A phone call and email left for the company’s New England district manager were not returned. Attempts to reach a spokesperson at BAM’s corporate office in Birmingham, Ala., were unsuccessful.

BAM was taken private last year in a $21 million buyout led by the chairman of the company. For the 39 weeks that ended Oct. 31, 2015 — the final financial results the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission before going private — Books-A-Million reported a net loss of $18.1 million on $311.3 million in revenues for the period.

The West Lebanon BAM store also sells toys, games, electronic gadgets, movies and music and magazines, and operates a cafe.

The closing of BAM would leave Lebanon without a bookstore following last September’s closing of used bookstore Encore Books after more than 20 years in business.

BAM has the space that formerly was occupied by Borders, which closed after the chain declared bankruptcy in 2011.

Michaels, which calls itself the “largest specialty provider of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall decor, and seasonal merchandise for the hobbyist and do-it-yourself home decorator,” operates 1,340 stores in the U.S. and Canada. The company’s only other Twin State locations are in Rutland, Keene and Manchester.

Nonetheless, Michaels is coming into a market already occupied by its chief rival, Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, which also sells home crafting supplies. In addition, Wal-Mart, in the same shopping center as where Michaels will be located, has a crafting aisle. In addition, Hobbies ‘N’ Stuff in Glenn Road Plaza sells arts and crafts supplies.

In the early 1990s, there were as many as 30 bookstores dotted around the Upper Valley. Today, only a handful remain. Some independent bookstores are experiencing better sales as chain bookstores continue to retrench in the face of online retailer Amazon, although Amazon recently announced a test market plan to open its own brick-and-morter bookstores.

John Lippman can be reached at 603-727-3219 or

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